This time last year I asked Andre what he thought our theme for the year should be (we choose themes rather than specific New Year resolutions). Slightly ambitiously, he wanted the theme to be 'relaaaax'. Being as we didn't have a functioning kitchen at that particular moment in time, and the house was in total chaos caused by the addition of a large new extension, a baby, and a puppy, we *eventually* compromised that the theme for the year should be 'organise'.
And organise we did! We DIY installed an Ikea Bodbyn kitchen and pimped it up with Moroccan cement tiles on the floor, a rugged wooden worktop, massive Belfast sink, Neff induction hob, ceiling extractor fan, three ovens, warming drawer, open scaffold board shelving, underfloor heating, touch-activated tap, and recycling drawers that open when you nudge them with your knee.
The kitchen contains a majestic 54 drawers, so we have dedicated space for everything from spices, baking trays, pizza-making equipment, party bags and assorted plastic tat, camping cookware, and vintage serving ware, to phone chargers and baby bibs. We also have a utility/office area with recycling units, shredder, filing cabinet and in-trays. No more lost HMRC documents or birthday party invitations, thanks very much!
What else? We finished the boot room which contains all the shoes, coats, hats and bags, with seasonal storage boxes for items not currently in use (right now they contain sunglasses, sunhats, flipflops and sunscreen). I have somewhere for my gloves, we never lose the book bags or the homework, and we have a bucket containing spare socks and cardigans to prevent the last-minute dash up the stairs when Natalia attempts to leave the house for school in bare feet and Crocs.
We built a (small) walk-in toy cupboard to store all the board games, Lego, dolls, tiny plastic animals, craft, and magazines. We also (finally!) installed floating scaffold board shelves in the reading room and unpacked my hundreds of books, which had been living in tatty cardboard boxes stacked all over the house for more than a year.
We installed the downstairs WC, and wallpapered it with gorgeous leafy paper. We also finally got round to tiling the hearth in the fireplace. And we invested in some proper grown-up furniture in the form of a massive extendable dining table, a raspberry pink velvet loveseat that the dogs have promptly claimed as their own, and a big slouchy linen corner sofa that couldn't be more comfortable.
Finally, in October we began renovating the family bathroom at the top of the house. It isn't finished yet, but the main dusty messy work of demo, electrics, plumbing and plaster-boarding has been completed, the shower is in place, and we've tiled the floor and part of the walls.
All this DIY and organisation didn't leave much spare cash for fancy holidays, so we embraced the staycation, visiting the Peak District, the Isle of Wight, the Lake District, and Northumberland. I also took the girls on various camping trips in our new bell tent, including camping on the beach in Wales. We threw lots of parties at home, including an epic Bonfire Night party with 80 guests tracking mud round the house, and enjoyed some unexpected December snow.
And for 2018? All right then, husband, after all that effort, it's time to relax :-) We plan to spend 2018 pottering around, enjoying our new house, growing things in the garden, going on holiday, taking camping trips to the beach, going to family-friendly festivals, throwing parties for our friends, and taking on a few small-scale projects like painting a wall here and there, or sanding a floor (in comparison to DIY installing the kitchen every night after work until midnight, this will be a breeze). We also need to finish the bathroom, but as we have another bathroom with a shower over the bath there's no urgency to do this, especially now the dusty work is done and we no longer have loads of random bathroom equipment stored in our bedroom. Mañana, mañana. Let's slow it right down and enjoy what we have.