Sunday Round Up

It’s been a pretty chilled out week here, and they’re the best kind, in my book.  Milo’s still crawling all over the place which is so exciting.  He’s figured out putting one thing inside another, and handing stuff over when asked.  The glosswork in the living room is done, so we just need one more coat of chalky white on the exposed brick and we’re done.  Well, we need to figure out what lights we want, but other than that we are DONE.

This week’s treat of the week were salted caramel biscuit bars.  Totally delicious.  I used the recipe from Erren’s Kitchen, I overbaked them because I was tired so they didn’t have the brownie texture I was after, but they did taste delicious, so I’ll have another try one day.
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Today we made a family nest with playmats and cushion and cuddly toys and hunkered down to watch Ghibli films all morning, and I made us pancakes for lunch-Banana for Milo, Bacon and cheese for Mama and Daddy.  Bliss.  It’s been a long week, and bitterly cold, especially in the mornings. I’ve decided to take better care of my skin, and have started to drink a bunch more water and remember to moisturise.  We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday Round Up

Weekly Portrait of Milo

Hey there.  I’ve seen a few blogs that document the growing of their kids, whether literally in therms of shots taken in the same place or developmentally, with shots showing the new things Jr can do.  I’m going to go with a Life, The Universe and Everything approach, and add a snapshot of what’s going on in our lives each week, 52 weeks of the year.  This will take us through first steps and first words, first birthdays and first ice creams.  Should be interesting.  I’m going to jump right to number 2…
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3/52
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Tomorrow I’ve got the day all to myself for glosswork and tidying up.  DIY and sorting.  Soothing.

Weekly Portrait of Milo

The 99% Finished living room

Howdy all,

It’s been a while since I put up any pics of the house, and there’s been quite a bit of change!  The living room is now 99% done – the skirting board needs painting and there’s some filler in the walls that needs sanding and painting.  The filler is the same colour as the paint though, so the job isn’t screaming at me.  I know, I’m a mess.  Our flat is pretty small, even by British standards, so it still feels like we’ve got a lot of function crammed in here.
This is our TV room, our dining room and where Milo plays.  The space also gets commandeered as a spare bedroom (the sofa folds out into an unbelievably comfortable full-size double bed) and my studio on occasion.  The dining table extends and I’ve had ten people around it. There are chairs cleverly hidden in various places around the flat – in the bedrooms and even behind the sofa!  A lot of our life gets lived in this one room, so there’s as much storage as possible.  The end of the sofa is acually a lift up treasure chest of DIY supplies, the sideboard/TV unit is JAM PACKED with booze and illustration supplies, and even a media server!

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We really don’t watch TV at all, but we have one anyway.  Sometimes Milo watches a Ghibli and sometime I veg out to Star Trek, but broadcast TV? Not so much.  We do listen to records a lot though!  I like to let Milo choose and then dance around the room.  He just chooses the the most colourful sleeve, but I feel good for letting him get involved.
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The view of the throne.  The sofa is the Friheten from ikea.  It was cheap and cheerful and is reasonably comfortable.  I like knowing there’s a spare bed, especially when the little one’s having a tough night!
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We all eat all of our meals at the table.  It’s nice to have a table right there because it actually gets used.  In our old place we had a dining room, but it got used as a bit of a dumping ground.  Again, the table is from Ikea, it’s just a Bjursta and its holding up pretty well.  It sure gets some abuse from the tiny one at dinner time!!  You can see our toy storage there too…Just a big ol’ box on wheels.
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The shelving is Elfa System track and bracket, and we got some ply cut to size at our local hardware store.  Fun fact-I was 5 months pregnant when we did this and couldn’t help at all. Mr E. tried to pick up the ply by himself while everyone assumed I was being overly feminine and not helping in case I broke a nail or something.  I tried really hard to look pregnant but it just didn’t work.
On the subject of the kid (honestly, you have one and they just take over), the little man is nearly 9 months old.  It’s totally shocking.
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I know a full house tour was sort of promised last summer, but it’s coming, I promise.

The 99% Finished living room

Wow.

Hi everyone,

I didn’t realise quite how long it’s been.  There’s a bit going on, so I’ve got some posts in the pipeline.  We painted the hallway black!  The brick in the lounge is white!  Everything in between!  For now, here’s a picture of Milo.  There was an unattended nativity so I did what any mother would do; Put my baby in the manger and take a photo.  I say baby, 7 months old and cruising already.  He’ll be a bona fide toddler before I know it.

Wow.

Caramel Crunch Bars

Good Morning everyone!

We’re in a holiday kinda mood here, so I’d like to share a new chocolate recipe.  Backtracking a bit…I LOVE coffee.  I can’t get enough coffee.  When I go to a coffee shop I get coffee with more coffee in it.  And a coffee chaser.  Yep. Double shot latte and an espresso to go.  I’m also partial to cake and chocolate, and most coffee shops have a chocolate nibble offering or six.  My current favourite comes in the shape of caramel crispy bars from Costa, so like any good citizen I have made my own take on the recipe, and I’m going to share it here, because I’m nice like that.

Caramel Crunch 1

It’s a chocolatey, biscuity, caramelly, crunchy mess.  YOU’RE WELCOME.  Also, you should probably only eat one, just sayin’.

Get these things:

250g Dark Chocolate (the bars don’t care if it’s cheap or Green & Blacks, it’s all good)
150g Butter
2 Tablespoons golden syrup
250g digestive biscuits
About a cup of rice crispies
2 caramel chocolate bars
200g (ish) milk chocolate

A well greased square baking tin, or two loaf tins, or whatever you have
A space in the fridge

Do these things:

Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup together in a mixing bowl.  Yo can do this over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave if you like living on the edge.

Bash up the biscuits into fairly large chunks and add to the melted goo created above, then pour in the crispies and mix the whole lot GENTLY.  You want crispy crispies, not dust.

Pour into the greased receptacle, and flatten down a bit, trying to make it even.

Break the caramel bar into chunks, and stud the delicious looking chocolate mess.

Melt the milk chocolate and drizzle over the top, sealing the caramel chunks well and truly in.

Leave to set in the fridge overnight and turn out in the morning.  Cut into squares using a HOT knife, and enjoy.  I originally cut mine into nine squares, and Mr said I was ridiculous, so now we have eighteen fingers, which is probably better?  Will I eat fewer? NOPE.

Caramel Crunch 2

SO good.  Enjoy your thoroughly British treat!  (FYI for my American friends, I believe light corn syrup is an acceptable substitute for golden syrup, and you guys call digestives Graham Crackers for some reason. Language, HA!)

Caramel Crunch Bars

Thoughts on Motherhood

Yep.  It’s a post about the ‘M’ word.  I’m married, I’m mortgaged and now I’m a Mama.  My whole world has been tilted, but not turned upside down by having Milo.  I’m still ‘Me’.  I still eat sushi, I still listen to metal, I still dye my hair green on a whim.  I nurture and I protect and I imagine I could be fierce if I needed to be, but I’m pretty docile.  My tiny flat is not overrun with infant paraphernalia, but there is no doubt that a kiddo lives here.  I don’t think that having a baby means that you surrender your style and fill the house with plastic (we’ve done pretty damn well on that front, actually) or that the TV plays a perpetual loop of ‘In the Night Garden’.  We have everything we need, a baby bath that hides in a cupboard, a door bouncer instead of a jumparoo, a beautiful high chair that will last us many years, a beautiful crocheted blanked made with love by my MIL…  But not much primary coloured plastic.

I make Milo clothes, I made him a tipi, I made a sheepskin liner for his highchair and I’ll make one designed to go in trolley seats (damn they look uncomfortable).  I make fresh baby purees.  We watch Japanese anime with Subtitles.  I carry Milo in his sling most of the time and he loves it.  I sing Dolly Parton and Tim Minchin to him and I use organic baby bath.  I’m not all ‘extra crunchy granola’ (as a friend described) though.  Milo has plastic toys.  Sometimes he eats baby food from a pouch.  Some days I sit him in front of Peppa Pig so I can empty the dishwasher.  I give him Calpol and I get stressed when he screams, and yes, I use (gasp) disposable nappies and sometimes he even has (double gasp) formula.  I think of myself as a pragmatist.  I have ideals and good intentions, but you have to go with the flow and let the littun’s take the lead.

I’ve kind of forgotten what life was like before, but that’s OK.  To quote a Jonathan Coulton song: “You should know how great things were before you.  Even so, they’re better still today.  I can’t think of who I was before.  You ruined everything, in the nicest way.”

Thoughts on Motherhood

Milo’s Nursery

Hi All,

A nursery was promised and a nursery thou shalt receive!  The skirting board still needs doing but that’s all, so I’m calling it done for now.  Enjoy!
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So…A quick word on the tipi.  I made this one Sunday afternoon from blackout curtain lining and dowels from the hardware store.  I needed a shelter for a BBQ that I’m going to today and couldn’t find one I liked, so I got busy!  Milo seems to like it and hopefully it will last a while.  Milo loves his room and always seems to calm down in there if he’s stressed.  Happy days!
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Milo’s Nursery

Feeding Milo…

Hey all,

We got the big crib for the Nursery last week, so now is all we need to do is strip and replace the skirting boards.  It’s a lovely calm space in there, and Milo’s settled in well.

Talking of Milo, he’s (shock) four months now, and we gave him his first food this evening.  Banana and avocado puree.  Yum yum! (FYI, I just baked an avocado and banana in the oven for 15 minutes, then threw them in the blender.)

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Pictures of the nursery next time I promise!  Also, we finally have a door on the dishwasher now, as IKEA finally got their act together with the fixing kit.  All the tools and junk from Milo’s room has been creatively hidden away in the flat, and things are starting to look good around here.  We might even do a full house tour before the summer is out!

Laters!

Feeding Milo…

Sneak Peek of the Nursery

Hello all,

 

VERY long time no see.  I’m terrible, I know.  BUT I’ve nearly finished the nursery!  All that’s needed is to heatblast, re-attach and repaint the skirting (and paint the doors at some point) and we’re done.  Obviously I’ve forgotten hpow to take decent pictures of tiny rooms, so expect a full post as soon as I figure that one out.  For now, there’s just a bassinet in there, but over the next few weeks I expect we’ll be transitioning to a cot, so there will be some change coming then too.  For now though, here are a few of the handmade touches from the nursery…
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Sneak Peek of the Nursery

Just checking in…

Life is very hectic all of a sudden, but we’re trying to work on the apartment whenever we get the chance.  Whilst the kitchen is technically unfinished, it is functional, so we’ve started to clear out the small room.  Milo will be needing a bigger crib soon, and that means we need to get our act together with the nursery!

2 Months old already.  How time flies.
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Just checking in…

A little more progress…

Bit by bit, things are coming together in the kitchen.  We’ve started tiling and now have a feel of what the kitchen will look like once it’s done!
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So, now we just need to finish the tiling and grouting, fit the doors onto the washing machine and dishwasher (and what a nightmare that is, but that’s a story for another day…), and bolt the wall cabinets together.  So close now, but the newborn is taking quite a bit of our time!  Hard to believe that he’s one month today.  Yay Milo!

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A little more progress…

Slowgress! It’s like progress, but slower!

A few years ago, I discovered the Slow Food Movement, and the way I ate and cooked changed.  I was more discerning about where my food came from, what I did to it, and the atmosphere I created when I ate it.  Suffice to say, as the name suggests, this takes time.  I was eating and cooking more slowly, and paying more attention to the experience of the meal.  In short, I became one of those food wankers who takes Instagrams of their lunch.  Fast forward a few years and I’m faced with not just a meal to put together, but an entire kitchen.  In retrospect, starting a kitchen reno when 6 months pregnant probably isn’t the best idea we’ve ever had, but we’ve had the luxury of taking it slow, and fitting work in whenever the Mister has time to breathe and whenever I’m not being sick or doing a beached whale impression.  I think we may have started the slow kitchen movement.

Hob, extractor and oven

Very clearly not finished yet, the obvious missing factor being the tiles.  We have tiles – great white glossy, daunting things! And black grout! And edging!  It’s just sat there at the moment, but once that goes up things will be that much closer to feeling together.  We also need to put the door on the washing machine and the dishwasher (fun fact: Ikea have discontinued the door attachment kit for third-party dishwashers).  The plinths and the worktop-back-edging need to go on, the wall cabinets need to be bolted together and I think that’s it.  Oh, and we’re going to put an open shelf to the left of the extractor cabinet for crockery and particularly pretentious cookbooks.

Kitchen towards window

Kitchen Right

Kitchen Left

I’m actually quite proud of the extractor cabinet above the hob there.  There was a LOT of debate over what kind of extractor to get, and we nearly ended up with a plain stainless steel one-you know the type, looks a bit like an upside down capital ‘T’.  The one thing we had to work around in this kitchen is where the outlet for the extractor is.  In the picture above you can see it in the top right-a ragged hole stuffed full of plastic bags because SPIDERS.  If we had gone for a ‘traditional’ hood, we would have had to botch it quite a lot, as most fans just want to vent UPWARDS, never sideways.  We figured that if we got an integrated cabinet fan, we could stick some industrial ducting out of the side, and channel to the outside.  That’s the theory, anyway.  The decision to paint the cabinet and door the same colour as the wall was one I wasn’t 100% on board with, but I think it works.

A final note to anyone who’s good at math or knows me IRL-I still haven’t had the damn baby yet.  He’s a week late now.  I think if I just start tiling, he’ll decide that that’s a SUPER GOOD time to arrive, so perhaps that’s the plan.  Oh, also this was my 100th post, I hoped to have finished, but I can’t leave you hanging.

 

Slowgress! It’s like progress, but slower!

Kitchen Plans

So you’ve seen the real life state of my kitchen, but I wanted to share my vision as well.  I feel like we’re getting to the point where the bones are coming together, and we can think about the ‘finishing touches’.  Yes, a tap is a finishing touch.
Kitchen Touches1. Marimekko Oiva teapot  2.  Orla Kiely Linear Stem pot  3. B&Q Senio tap  4.  Aloe Vera plant, Ikea.  5.  Habitat ‘Flap’ Clock.  6. Valspar Kitchen and Bathroom paint in Bottlenose Dolphin, B&Q.  7.  Franke Ascona sink, Screwfix.  8.  White tile with dark grout, via House & Home.

All the appliances are integrated, including the microwave, which means there doesn’t need to be anything on the worktop if we don’t want there to be.  Our kettle is a stovetop rather than electric, and I’m pretty sure the stovetop espresso maker will live on the hob, too.  I’ve got a cute hanging herb planter, and a stack of nice chopping boards, and for once I’ll be able to edit my little kitchen vignettes.  Of course, once the kitchen is done, we’ll pretty much have a baby here, so who knows, maybe I might not get round to that as quickly as I’d hoped.  Oh, and on that note, we also have to create a nursery from scratch!

Kitchen Plans

Kitchen Progress

Hi guys!  There’s been a fair amount of progress in the kitchen, now that we’re starting to get some of the big jobs done.  On Tuesday we got a plasterer in to fix up the walls and flatten the ceiling (we had a lovely 90s patterned Artex ceiling in there…).  We waited all week for it to dry, so that we could seal it with some watered down paint.  FYI, fresh plaster looks like melted chocolate.
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When this weekend rolled around, we got busy with the paintbrushes.  Once plaster is PROPERLY dry, it goes all pink and powdery.  That’s when you need to make sure to seal it well, otherwise the plaster will suck out any water content of the paint and the paint will dry patchy or the plaster will crack.  We used Dulux Light and Space mixed roughly 50/50 with water.  I guess you could use cheaper paint, but the Light and Space is what we’ve used on ceilings everywhere, so we had a fair bit floating around.  Also, if we ended up with a half used tin of trade pure brilliant white, it would never get used.  First coat dried really quickly-no surprises there, as the plaster absorbed most of the water, so we were throwing up a second coat in no time.  We did the same again, 50/50 mix.  We left this to dry for a few hours whilst we did some more cabinet building.  The kitchen was looking pretty bright at this point, but just got super fancy when we rollered on the final coat of ‘real’ paint onto the ceiling.  Pure, undiluted Absolute White Light and Space.  ‘Twas a thing of beauty.
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Check out all the beautiful brightness going on there.  Over the last two days I’ve assembled all the wall cabinets, except the one for the extractor fan, as the instructions for that appear to have been written by an utter sadist.  I’ve put the drawer fronts on the drawer units, fitted the oven into the oven housing and built one of those funky little wire pull out drawer cabinets.  We also managed to get the fridge and freezer back into the real kitchen, which means I can now open the fridge again!  When the fridge was stacked atop the freezer in the ‘nursery’, it was against a wall and opened the wrong way, and with this baby permanently attached to my front, there physically wasn’t room for me to open the door.  HAHAHA.  HILARIOUS.
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Sneaky little look at how the kitchen will eventually come together.  Unfortunately I took the picture late last night whilst so tired, but it is a small beacon of hope in the sea of neverending kitchen woe.  The kind of woe that has had my living room looking like this since BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
IMG_0521Soon.  Soon it will be over and I’ll have a fancy-pants kitchen and I’ll never leave it.  It’s my birthday next week and I’m having some people come over, so before then I’ll need to have straightened out the lounge at least.  The wall cabinets went up this afternoon, but they will need to come down again in the week so that I can paint the walls in the kitchen, and then the cabinets can be straightened and fixed up properly.  We’re a little closer to the finish, but given Ikea would have charged over £3k to fit the kitchen, I don’t mind that it’s taking a little while!

 

Kitchen Progress

Just a Quickie…The kitchen…Exists. Sort of.

Afternoon!

Following much excitement and so much waiting, on Wednesday we hot-footed it down to Ikea and bought ourselves a kitchen.  The kitchen planner lady was really helpful, but I’m pretty sure she took one look at us-all set with Macbooks at the ready, full of plans and spreadsheets and costings and measurements-and figured she would just let us get on with it.  I think that the standard drill is for the planners to go through your online plan and check spacing and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.  I don’t think we were typical customers.  Despite only bing available since Monday, there was a fair bit of Metod on display, and our kitchen (sans doors) was delivered the next day.  All the doors and fronts are due next week.  Super speedy.  So, after a fashion, the kitchen is in the flat.  Mostly though, it is in boxes, but it’s here and it’s ours and it will soon mock us with cries to be assembled.  I’ve put together four units so far, including nine drawers and it’s a sinch.  Although if you’re heavily pregnant (ahem) and sane (ahem) I wouldn’t recommend it.  Good thing I’m only ONE of those things.

IMG_0447 IMG_0448 IMG_0451 IMG_0452Aaaaaaaannd…. Obligatory person-incubating-selfie…
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Just eight weeks to go before little Mr E is with us.  God, I hope we’re ready.

 

Just a Quickie…The kitchen…Exists. Sort of.

More Kitchen (Or ‘Less Kitchen” Depending on Your Viewpoint…)

Everyone has days where a decision is made, and looking back, the only justification you can offer is that “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.  I have a feeling that in 5 weeks time, when we’re still struggling with running water only in the bathroom (and only just…), food in the living room and a single hob in the nursery, we will argue that a new kitchen whilst 8 months pregnant “seemed like a good idea at the time”.  Do you know what’s really hard when you’re pregnant?  Washing up in the bath.  Anyway.  We now have absolutely no kitchen in the kitchen at all, whatsoever.  We’re currently laying the underfloor heating and the laminate floor, and took the opportunity to draw out the new layout on the bare insulation.

Left corner of empty kitchen - Geekarilla.com
Right corner of empty kitchen - Geekarilla.comIn terms of the overall layout of the kitchen, other than keeping the shape, the hob and the sink the same, we’ve changed pretty much everything else.  We’re switching from a stacked fridge-freezer to two separate under counter units.  We’re adding a dishwasher and moving the washing machine to behind the door.  We’re adding more useful storage in the shape of pull out cabinets and drawers.  We decided to keep the oven and sink in the same places due to a. making plumbing MUCH simpler for us, and b. they’re pretty much in the most sensible place, anyway.
Kitchen layout, Geekarilla.comIt has actually been quite fun grabbing Sharpie markers and doodling all over the walls.  We had to decide the best place for all our appliance switches and the thermostat for the underfloor heating, so there’s a lot of this going on at the moment…
Socket placement scribbles - Geekarilla.comOnce Mr E has finished with the flooring in there (that’s today’s job), we can chip off the remaining tiles and start hacking holes in the plasterboard where the new sockets will be.  We also need to move the lighting-we’re removing the main overhead light and replacing it with a pendant in the corner by the sink, and putting lots of heavy duty under-cabinet strip lighting under the wall cabinets.  That’s next weekend – the weekend of electrics – and also my 4D baby scan, I’ll be 30 weeks pregnant with 10 weeks to go and no kitchen.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…

 

More Kitchen (Or ‘Less Kitchen” Depending on Your Viewpoint…)

Pictures of Progress

And so, as promised, here are some pictures of the carnage we’ve created in the name of “progress”.  This is my life right now.  Below is the Dining room, temporarily repurposed to become a bit of the kitchen.
Dining room kitchenNext up  is what I genuinely think is the best of the bunch.  The nursery, temporarily repurposed to become another kitchen.
Nursery KitchenAll of this is of course in aid of creating the ACTUAL kitchen, which as of this morning, looks like this:
IMG_0341 IMG_0340Bye bye, blue.  The other thing I mentioned yesterday was my nail polish shenanigans.  Well, in all this chaos, I looked at my chopsticks and thought “Hey, these could be more colourful!”. So I procrastinated and painted my chopshick tips with nail polish, and it turned out kinda OK?
IMG_0358IMG_0355IMG_0337I am the queen of procrastination.  (And with that said, I should probably get back to work…)

Pictures of Progress

Aargh! Kitchen!

So today we’ve started to rip the kitchen apart.  Oh this is going to be fun.  Firstly: Do you have any idea how much CRAP it’s possible to store in a kitchen?!  Even more embarrassingly, we didn’t really unpack after we moved here, so I was pulling out half packed boxes from the cupboards and sorting them.  I found 6 (open) bags of mixed fruit, and also a bag containing a jar of marshmallow Fluff that had popped at some point.  Pleasant.

But.  We’ve started.  The spare room/small room/junk room/nursery is now a mini emergency kitchen – one hob and a microwave! Yeah!  And cabinets are disappearing in the kitchen.  We decided to go for an Ikea kitchen for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, they’re pretty cheap, especially if you do all the labour yourself.  They’re also ‘hackable’, by which I mean you can fit up awkward spaces and get exactly what you want if you’re imaginative/clever.  Ikea Faktum kitchens, however, are being discontinued in February in the UK (See more here).  The system is being replaced with the METOD system, which is more widely used in Europe and Scandinavia.  Cue a mild panic as we do the temporal math…Kitchen won’t be available to buy until February 3rd + Baby due end of March = “Ha ha, sod it! Let’s start the kitchen!”  We figure we can get the room cleared, the floor done, the lighting moved and wired up and the plastering and tile done before we pick up the kitchen, and install it straight into a prepped room.

Of course, the UK online Ikea kitchen planner won’t swap over to the new units until February (and we’re not just talking new doors, btw, it’s new shells, new sizes, new fixings…).  So we’ve been planning our kitchen on the Swedish version of the Ikea website.  Protip: If ever you want to be disillusioned with Ikea naming, go the Swedish website and let Chrome translate for you.  It will helpfully translate the product names, too.  It turns out the rather fancy sounding FAKLIG induction hob actually translates as…TASTY.

Pictures to come, of the kitchen desolation and also some other bits and bobs I’ve been up to, including PAINTING THINGS THAT ARE NOT NAILS WITH NAIL POLISH.  Laters!

Aargh! Kitchen!