So we’ve been in our farmhouse for a year now and in some ways it has flown by. When I look back at everything we have done I am quite proud of the progress. We’ve renovated the kitchen, bathroom, utility room (still not picture worthy but it’s functional!), and we’ve just this month finished two of the bedrooms.
I’ve also recently painted the front porch which was badly water damaged from the leaks, and it was a hideous shade of orange which took a lot of paint to cover. The front porch is off the main hall and it has made a huge difference painting that white as it reflects so much more light into the hall. I’m getting a quote from a decorator to paint the hall for me (it’s very tall so beyond my capabilities), so we’ll see what price he comes back with and then I’ll decide whether it’s a priority for this year. We have stripped out the dining room, and we are waiting for the plasterer to come in the new year to skim the walls and repair the water damaged ceiling and cornice. We won’t use a formal dining room so it’ll be our family room/ snug, i.e. somewhere to stash all the brightly coloured plastic that seems to come with owning a toddler.
At the end of the year and the beginning of the next it is customary to make New Years resolutions. I haven’t made resolutions in quite a while as I generally find them hard to keep as they are often along the lines of “get fit”, “lose weight” and “make more time for…”. However, this year I feel it’s time I made some resolutions again. I have recently been reading a few lifestyle books, and particularly enjoyed “A year of living Danishly” by Helen Russell, a Brit who moved to Denmark for a year for her husband’s work. Denmark is one of the happiest nations in the world, and there has been a lot of hype recently in the press, on blogs and in magazines about the art of hygge. I was intrigued by this concept, and have adopted a few of the principles at home, namely lighting a fire more, not using the “big light” in the sitting room, and lighting candles. But being Danish and happy has more to it than just a bit of hygge, as I read in Helen Russell’s book. The Danes are very keen on their hobbies, and attend several clubs a week, especially during the winter. They also love tradition, and Russell had several hilarious sections covering Danish tradition, which to an outsider appear totally bonkers, but to the Danes are an important part of their culture. I also read Gretchen Reubin’s book “The happiness project” which I found to be a great read, as she tried various things proven to make us happier over the course of a year, changing one thing a month. Things she changed included tidying more regularly, working out more, spending more time with family, being more thoughtful and fighting less with her husband (which she achieved by nagging less and showing him she loved him by little gestures). I found the style of the author a little condescending at times and I think she tried to hard to compartmentalise aspects of her life, but nonetheless she had some great tips which I plan to follow this year.
With all this in mind I have come up with several New Years resolutions:
1) Follow the one minute rule (from “The happiness project”). This involves doing nagging tasks that take less than a minute, such as booking a dentist appointment, posting letters that have been building up, banking, taxing the car etc. The idea is that we have all these little nagging tasks at the back of our mind and we feel freer and more organised if we get some of the easy ones ticked off.
2) Observe the evening tidy up (from “The happiness project”). Essentially this means doing a quick tidy up every evening so that we don’t start the day tripping over toy tractors, scrabbling through piles of washing for work trousers, or rummaging through dirty dishes to find a clean sippy cup whilst a small child yells at us. I think this one could make a big difference with not much effort.
3) Rituals and traditions (from both books). My parents have a lovely tradition of having a roast every Sunday – as a family it was time to sit down to eat a lovely meal together, be thankful and talk together. Our working lifestyle and life on the farm here means that this is unlikely to be possible every week, but I think it’s important to make time for eating together when we can. Tom and I have started having our evening meal with James; before we were putting him to bed and then eating as it was easier when he was little. But now he’s a bit older it’s nice to sit and eat together. The Danes have lots of traditions, and I plan to try and come up with some of our own. For example, going for walk on New Year’s Day (Tick! We went to Cramond beach. It was mobbed and absolutely freezing, but lovely nonetheless), having pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, going to church more often, Christmas Eve boxes etc.
4) Remember birthdays (from “The happiness project”). I used to be amazing at remembering birthdays, and whilst at uni (when I had lots of time and was always looking for an excuse to not study) I used to write my friends birthday poems. I don’t know what has happened but my memory is shocking these days! I seem to forget birthdays all the time. As an adult it’s always a bit rubbish not getting as many cards etc on my birthday, and it’s nice to feel somebody remembers and thinks of you. So I’m setting up a shared online calendar with the hubs so we can keep track of what each other has coming up, and also to help us remember birthdays well in advance. I still make lots of cards, so I’ll try to build up a stash so there is no excuse to miss a birthday.
5) Hobbies. (From both books). Having hobbies and interests outside work and family commitments is extremely important to happiness. I have just started a book group with some of my uni mates. They are bringing along a few of their friends who I don’t know that well, which will be fab to make some new friends. Our first meeting is this month at my house, so I’m really looking forward to hosting and sharing books with friends. I also plan to try some hobbies I’ve been meaning to have a go at for years, like pottery. I was also lucky enough to be given three lovely craft books for Christmas so I’m going to try out some of the makes in there.
6) Be more eco-conscious. I have read a few eco-living books recently, like “It’s not easy being green”, “Zero waste home” and “How green are my wellies?”. It made me realise that there is still lots I can do to improve our green credentials. Whilst I’ve done the easy things, like recycling, buying more eco-friendly cleaning products, and choosing to buy second hand where possible, there really is lots more I could do. For example making our garden more wildlife friendly, reducing packaging that comes into our home, and wasting less food and energy.
7) Focus on health. Finally, it wouldn’t be New Year without vowing to give up chocolate for life, work out for 2 hours a day and losing a stone. To make it more achievable, I reckon I just need to cut out some sugar from my diet and try to do 10,000 steps a day. I have an iPhone for the first time in my life, and the wee health app has been a bit of an eye opener. Some days I do 10,000 steps no bother, but other days I barely make 4,000. It’s hard with James as he doesn’t want to go in the pushchair (there is lots of screaming which is hard to endure for a 40 minute dog walk), but I maybe need to persevere until he gets used to it.
So that’s it, a long list of things to do. I’ll be sharing my progress over the year. I’ve got lots of house photos to share with you too, it’s just finding the time that’s hard. What with all the walking, pottery and reading I’ll be doing this year…