Trip to the UK: a trip to Grandad’s house

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We had a lot of family scattered in various parts of the country to visit during our trip and spend quite a bit of time travelling. We only had a few days with my dad in Derbyshire but managed to squeeze in a lot (a little too much for Maya who was getting grumpy from all the moving around and would have been happy staying and playing in the tent in the garden). We really lucked out and got the best of the British high summer while we were here – on our previous trip when Maya was a baby I was totally freezing and had to sit around the house with jeans and a fleece, plus blanket, despite it being June!

Trip to the UK: Park Life

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One of our favourite parts of being in the UK was the amazing parks that are found in every single neighbourhood. We just don’t have parks in Bali – most schools have some outdoor play equipment and there are big indoor play centres that you can pay for the pleasure of letting your little ones blow of some steam on noisy, bright, and probably filthy inflatables, but we just don’t have the well-maintained parks with safe play equipment that are everywhere in the UK. (If you happen to be in Ubud there is actually ONE outdoor play park in Sayan but it’s still got nothing on the British parks).

We headed straight out to Jesmond Dene on our first morning. This is a beautiful wooded valley on the outskirts of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, close to where my brother lives and where we were staying. I have fond memories of exploring the dene when I was a child myself and I jogged there regularly when I lived in newcastle. As well as the walks through the wood and along the stream, there’s also a free petting zoo and play park called pets’s corner. Maya loved it. She was basically in heaven and this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip where we would head out 3 times a day to explore the local parks of wherever we were (Newcastle, Leeds, Derbyshire, Dumfries).

Seeing Maya enjoy these amazing play spaces was the first time I started to second-guess whether Bali really is the best place to bring up kids. Here we have rice fields and jungles and rivers to explore – it’s certainly possible to be free and wild and spend the whole day outdoors but it comes with challenges such as the heat, snakes, mosquitos and mangey dogs and my kids will often request a visit to one of the aforementioned yucky indoor play areas rather than frolicking in the rice fields (which is only really possible for a couple of weeks after harvest time anyway).

Sometimes I start imagining our life in an alternate universe where the kids don’t whine and go to bed early because they’ve been out playing in the fresh air all day (Maya was in bed and asleep without fuss by 8pm most nights during our trip, a huge contrast to the “let them play until they drop from exhaustion” bedtime routine that rules in Bali, and I’m sure all the playing in parks helped) and we have weekend picnics in the summer and snowball fights in the winter.

I know it’s easy to take things like free parks for granted when it’s what you’re used to but it really is a privilege to have free access to safe, well-maintained outdoor spaces with play equipment for kids. My mother in law would not believe me that all these parks did not have an entry charge when I showed her the photos.

Our favourite parks:

Jesmond Dene, Newcastle upon Tyne

Roundhay Park, Leeds

Markeaton Park, Derby

Dock Park, Dumfries

 

Catching up or starting over?

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Sometimes you get so behind with things that it’s better just to throw in the towel and start with a clean slate. It’s been a shocking 6 months since I updated my blog and the longer the time stretched, somehow the harder it was to sit down and type up a new entry.

I’ve been preoccupied with so many things surrounding work and life that the blog has really been on the back burner for a while and I was also feeling somewhat bored with it, burned out an uninspired. So the easiest thing to do was simply ignore it.

However I’ve had a growing list of posts in my head that I wanted to write and the nagging feeling in the back of my mind about my poor little blog sitting here so neglected. Looking back on my last ‘life’ post (our UK trip) I can see that there are so many important things I wanted to write about that I just haven’t got around to yet: Maya starting preschool, Christmas, Kiran’s birthday, Maya graduating preschool :-O

The thing is I know there aren’t a lot of people reading this blog and that’s fine – I didn’t start it for online fame or to make money (although the income I get from the odd sponsored post is very welcome). This was a place to update my friends and family back home about my new life in Bali but also to create a memento of important events for me and Made and the kids to look back on and remember. I have the photos of course but pictures only tell half the story.

So while it’s impossible to catch up when I’m so far behind, and it may seem ridiculous to be writing about events from a year ago, please bear with me a little bit as I attempt to fill in the gaps, because these posts are important for me, if not for anyone else.

Once I’m vaguely up to date I really want to start writing here regularly again, motivated with a new blog design and domain (I bought the .com version of my domain over a year ago after buying it at auction when it was unavailable for years and my procrastination means I have yet to do anything with it!)

I think I’ll start where I left off – on a plane to England with my girl, and we’ll see how we get on. If there’s anyone still reading here, feel free to drop me a note of encouragement (or tell me off for not posting in so long if you wish!)

Here we go…

Konmari-ing my house

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One of the things that I struggle with the most at the moment is maintaining a balance between getting work done and keeping the house clean and tidy.

Anyone with small kids will probably understand why this is such a challenge. I can spend 2 hours tidying the house and then the kids will get back and 5 minutes later the place is completely trashed.

In the midst of my struggle I read the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo (shortened to Konmari in that way that is so ubiquitous in Asian languages).

I’m guessing you’ve heard of this book by now – strange that a book about tidying should have so many rave reviews and become a best seller but if you read it, you’ll probably understand why.

How you store items is a big part of the Konmari method, particularly clothing. There is even a special folding technique for clothes that I have to say I am still following months later, which is a pretty big deal.

Shoes are also a problem for us – we all have several pairs and they take up a lot of space. We used to have a plastic shoe rack but it was ugly and impractical. So after researching some shoe storage ideas I realised we could use a wooden bench with a shelf underneath, which not only looks much nicer but also provides an extra seat.

Another main aspect of the Konmari method is getting rid of your stuff. Rather than the usual “If you’ve not used it for a year it has to go” method, Konmari recommends only keeping items in your home that make you happy.

I’m actually a big fan of de-cluttering, I find it rather freeing. I believe we can be really held down by our possessions and getting rid of a good portion of them opens up space both physically and metaphorically to let new and better things into your life.

Now de-cluttering when you’ve got kids, that’s a different story. The toys had begun to take over the house. It was getting silly. So one afternoon, sick of yet another time-wasting tidying session, I put 80% of the toys in a room upstairs that we don’t use. I left the doll house, maya’s baby dolls, some animal figurines and Kiran’s cars.

Well I have to say this was rather a success. Rather than missing the rest of their toys, the kids hardly noticed they’d gone. Even better, they played more creatively with the toys that were left and each toy became multi-purpose.

So I have to say Konmari gets a big thumbs up from me and it’s definitely worth reading the book. I’m hoping for a less cluttered, cleaner house and less time spent tidying up in the future!

Sponsored Video: Wash Happy with Samsung activ dualwash

How to go from washing misery….

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to wash happy!

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When I moved to Bali, my life simplified a lot. I went from living in a house full of stuff to getting along quite happily for a year with just the contents of a small backback.

As nice as this is, there are still some western comforts that I bitterly miss – cold showers get boring fast, even when you’re in the tropics. And especially after having kids, I missed the convenience of having a washing machine.

I got used to hand washing all my clothes but now with a family of 4, it definitely takes up a huge part of my day – I have to wash every day just to stay on top of it and if we’re in the middle of the rainy season, I just give up on anything drying. We do have plenty of laundries here but I feel like it’s more hassle than it’s worth in dropping clothes off and picking them up several times a week plus items often go missing or get damaged.

We did install a washing machine at our airbnb rental and I sneak up there sometimes when we don’t have guests as it’s about a million times easier to throw a load of laundry in the machine. It would make things about a million times easier again if we had our own washing machine here.

And when it comes to washing machines, you can’t get much more convenient than the Samsung activ dualwash. This machine simplifies laundry with a built in sink and scrubber so you can hand wash, soak and scrub before machine washing, all in the same place.


The activ dualwash also has a unique “soft curl” design with small outlet holes, which is kinder on clothes and means they’re less likely to get damaged – I’ve had a couple of pieces ripped to shreds with our current machine when I overfilled it.

There are also lots of other handy features like a built-in error checking system and accompanying smartphone app so you can find problems without calling out an engineer; a Magic Filter to keep clothes cleaner; and an anti-tangle “Wobble technology”, water-saving washing flow.

Laundry is one of those chores that nobody really enjoys but if you watch the video above you might just get inspired to ‘wash happy’ and dance around to the catchy tune while getting your clothes clean!

If you’d like to find out more about the Samsung activ dualwash, checkout the Samsung Facebook page, get home ideas and inspiration from their Instagram account and watch more videos at their YouTube channel.

This post sponsored by Samsung but all thoughts are my own 🙂

Sponsored Post: World Baking Day – Making The World’s Happiest Cake!

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It’s World Baking day today! Who are you baking for? We were successful in making the World’s Happiest Cake (recipe in my earlier post).

Maya loves to bake and was more than keen to help out with mixing, chopping, grating and squeezing. The cake baked while she napped and I iced it. She was then thrilled to present papa with a slice of cake that she’d made “all by herself”.

Kiran lost interest right around the mixing part but was happy to race his cars around the mixing bowl and we had a lovely morning baking instead of watching cartoons on Youtube, which is becoming a far too frequent occurrence!

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What makes this the World’s Happiest Cake? It certainly put a smile on Made’s face to come home to freshly baked cake made by his little girl! (Recipe was created by Blue Band!)

Whatever you make, baking is a therapeutic activity – the repetitive actions of mixing and focusing on measuring can help your mind to relax and de-stress. Baking also gives you a great sense of accomplishment and if you bake for someone else you get an extra happy boost from doing something nice for another person.

World Baking Day is a great opportunity to get a bit of stress relief from everyday life as well as spending some quality time with your family and doing something special for a loved one.

Who are you baking for? Don’t forget to share with hashtag #worldbakingday, check out the WBD website and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest

This post sponsored by Blue Band for World Baking Day but all thoughts are my own 🙂

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Kiran is 3!

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Yes I know I have been a sorry excuse for a blogger lately. I really don’t have any excuse except to say my life is totally consumed with childcare and cleaning right now and my energy levels are at an all time low so work, blogging and anything else don’t get much time.

Anyway 3 months late is better than never right? So here are some photos from Kiran’s third birthday. I decided not to have a party and instead we took a day trip to the zoo. Kiran got a remote control car and a buzz lightyear and was pretty thrilled about it.

Kiran at 3 is just about the sweetest thing ever. He’s only really started talking properly in the last 6months – a year and comes out with the funniest things. He says “some prize” instead of “surprise” and “dis gusting” instead of “discusting” (dis gusting, dis not gusting). He is obsessed with Cars and Lightning McQueen (like a queen), charging around shouting “STUPID MAN!” and will happily sit in the dirt with his cars playing and singing by himself for hours.

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2014 in review and New Year goals

shineMy 2014 guiding work was “grow” and I’m not sure that the year really lived up to my plans – a lot of things went really well but I also felt stagnant in some areas. We didn’t have any huge events this year – no moving house, babies being born or trips to foreign countries but I do think personally I managed to grow in terms of confidence and making decisions for my personal and professional life. I said last year that I wanted to focus more on myself this year – get my health back on track and get out without the kids and I’ve definitely achieved that.

So lets see how I did with my goals from last year:

 

  • Make $5,000 a month consistently – Umm, no….
  • Make at least half my income from my own businesses (not client work) – Yes! Hooray! Not making as much as I’d like yet but lets make that this year’s goal.
  • Pay off my “small” debt (which is not that small but separate from my “big” debt of student loans and bank of mum and dad mortgages) – see above. no way this was going to happen but at least it’s no worse!
  • Launch 2 new websites – yes! Not the ones I originally planned but still… I’m hoping for many more this year
  • Write an e-book – not yet.
  • Learn to drive a motorbike – YES!!! This is probably my biggest achievement from 2014 and I squeezed it right in at the end of the year. I also crashed it but I’ll leave that for another post.
  • Create a beautiful learning/playing space in our home – not quite. I did improve our existing space though.
  • Cook 12 new meals (one a month and hopefully more!) – meh. No but I did bake lots of bread and a couple of cakes. Meals coming now that I can drive myself to the supermarket!
  • Have 12  family fun days out (and hopefully more) – hmmm…. not sure?
  • Make 12 videos of the kids and our life (a la documenting delight) – ha! no.
  • Go on 12 date nights with my husband (carrying this one over from last year – we managed a few!) – I’m pretty sure we overachieved on this. We even got in a night away without the kids!
  • Visit family and friends in the UK – not yet 🙁
  • Fill a sketchbook with drawings – all I drew this year were cars for Kiran
  • Get up early and develop a morning routine – sort of. I did this in the last couple of months but didn’t stick to it.

I think looking back 2014 was a good year for me although it felt pretty quiet and uneventful. I weaned Kiran in June and that allowed the possibility of me leaving him overnight and getting out in the evening more without the kids (previously I would feed him to sleep). Now we leave the kids with their grandparents at least a couple of nights a month and get some alone time. We’re also getting more sleep with both kids finally sleeping through the night.

I knew my health had to be a priority last year after spending the last half of 2013 recovering from dengue and I’m glad to say I felt a lot healthier overall this year. I’ve been trying to eat better (although still some improvements to be done there) and I felt amazing when I was doing yoga every day so definitely have to get back into that.

In April I had a bit of a crisis about my work and trying to figure out what I was doing that I wrote about here. In June I ended up going all in and quitting all my regular freelance jobs to concentrate on my own projects. Things have been going ok but this year I really need to push with that and make some proper money.

My Indonesian has also improved greatly and my confidence along with it. I’m finally driving a motorbike (I’ve been saying I’m going to do this for the last 5 years) and that has also given me so much more confidence and independence.

So my 2015 word is SHINE! I have a feeling this will be a great year for us and I’m excited for this new sparkly shiny new year!

15 things for 2015:

  1. Yoga every day (even if it’s just 5 minutes)
  2. More real food, less crap and sugar
  3. Find a bahasa Indonesia teach and progress from conversational to fluent
  4. Stick to my debt repayment schedule
  5. Hit my income goals for the year (haven’t worked this out yet)
  6. Stop shouting at the kids
  7. Teach Maya to read
  8. Get up at 5am every morning (not got off to a good start with this one, haha!)
  9. Make a craft space in our spare room
  10. Visit the UK
  11. Write a book
  12. Redesign and relaunch my blog
  13. Stop being unproductive when i’m using my computer – 60% + productivity in rescuetime every week
  14. Get out of the house more – go out for coffee or lunch at least once a week
  15. Write a million words.

Hope everyone celebrated the New Year in the way they wanted (I fell asleep with the kids at about 10pm and missed everything, haha!) and I wish you all a fantastic 2015 x

 

 

Our Christmas

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For some reason I was just not really feeling Christmas this year – I think maybe because my family weren’t over this time but I just couldn’t get into the spirit. It never feels very Christmassy here anyway but I didn’t even put the tree up until xmas eve. Anyway we had some old friends visiting over Christmas, which was lovely and we ended up having a nice and relaxing day at the beach club (even if I spent most of the day supervising the kids in the pool rather than talking to my friends!). I really cut down on the presents this year but the kids were thrilled with what they got. We also got 2 new kittens and I got a motorbike (!!!) (more on that later!)

Unfortunately we’ve all been so busy this year (xmas and new year coinciding with galungan and kuningan) that I failed to get our annual family xmas photo 🙁 will have to get a new year one instead.

Hope everyone had a peaceful and happy Christmas and has a wonderful New Year x

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