Planning my Potager garden

Pronounced  'Pot-Ah-jay', this french term basically means "Kitchen garden" and was seen in Monastery gardens as far back as the 1500's.  The vegetable beds are essentially laid out in a way that the produce is grown and easily accessible from the kitchen by the cook. In more modern times there are Chefs kitchens still used in large estates and some restaurants. For those keen vegetable gardeners, like myself, it is a way to have a more ornamental vegetable garden, mixing veges, flowers, fruits and herbs.

Reference: Photo by Gil Hanly from the book New Zealand Potager The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Author Diana Anthony

Reference: Photo by Gil Hanly from the book New Zealand Potager The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Author Diana Anthony

I was in one of my favourite Hospice shops late last year and came upon a book on Potager gardens, it was all of $3. At the time I was starting to think about what I was going to do with my large vegetable garden. As empty nesters, overproduction in my vegetable garden was becoming a norm and there is only so much you can give away to your neighbours.  It was this book, and that absolutely stunning cover picture,  that sparked my idea of downsizing my vegetable garden into a Potager garden. 

Fast forward 6 months and one major landscaping project nearly finished, I have Pete out in the vege patch measuring up and redesigning the new Potager garden....excited oh yes just a little!! 

So here is what I am thinking, of course with some, as always sensible, reality check suggestions from Pete.

Our Current Garden

At present we have three garden beds. Two are large, one being the original garden bed and one that Pete and Chris rotary hoed up for me about 4 years ago. The third is actually a small raised bed which I just grow lettuce and spinach in.

On the east side of the garden, along the fence line, I have a grapevine and a patch of strawberries.

Our current needs

As newly empty nesters, we are discovering the needs of a two person household are certainly different from a four person household. In terms of the vegetable patch this has seen a big reduction in the amount and type of produce that needs to be grown. 

To help in the layout of the new Potager garden, I thought about what changes I wanted to make to the gardens in terms of production and use, such as the veges, herbs, flowers and fruit.

Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, sweet peas, beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, spring onions, chillis, asparagus, potatoes, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage were the main vegetables still to be produced.

Additional to the usual vegetables, I want to expand the berry patch. I have already got some blueberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, however I want to increase production.

I also did a lot of research looking on companion planting as I wanted to improve the use of other helpful plants to reduce pest in the garden and introduce more herbs and flowers.  Annabel Langbein, who is awesome, has a great blog on vegetable gardening and provides information on companion planting. There is also some great guides that you can download from various gardening blogs on this topic, such as this one from Tui  

Layout and structure

At this point I thought about the layout of the garden and how I could redesign it in the Potager style. As I am reducing the crop production, I can take space out of the existing beds, which I thought I would turn into paths. 

One of the biggest issues I have currently with the garden beds is that they are on a slope. Apart from a mowing strip there is no frame around the beds to keep the soil in. It's a pain really, especially on the downward slope of the beds. It seemed to perfect opportunity to fix this by making the beds into raised gardens...poor Mr P he was not that impressed when I mentioned that. Ideally I wanted the frames to be made of railway sleepers...but budget brought me back to reality so just the usual timber frames will have to do.

The plan 

The two large beds will be split into four by creating a path through the middle of each of them. The third bed, which is the only raised garden bed I have, will remain. 

So all in all there will be 5 small raised garden beds and it will look like this;

The new beds will be framed up as raised gardens and level...yeah so much easier for my gardening. The paths will be created by removing that section of the garden. The existing dirt will be used to build up the new garden beds, so I will not lose too much good soil. 

Also look to build more permanent wooden structures for the plants, like the A-frame, Teepee and Flat Trellis.

For the paths, we have leftover white stone chip from the east side garden landscaping, so will use that to lay out the paths. 

There you have it folks, the plans for my Potager garden, easy as that !!! well now all we have to do is to make it!

What do you think?  Any suggestions?  I would love to hear from you , leave comments below. 

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How I created a Command Centre

That dreaded drop zone in the house where all members of the house seem to dump all their stuff as soon as they walk in the door! I do not know any one who has not got one! and like most people I have tried all sorts of things over the years to corral the items or at least get some sense of control. Using containers, baskets, big bowls, or boxes just meant that the got filled up with all sorts of junk; lost buttons, safety pins, dead batteries, 2c and 5c and most annoying of all pens that don't work!!! However of recent times I have had some success with some changes I have made and a sort of "command centre" that I have created....


What is a Command Centre?

Now you may well laugh at the name command centre (yes it's a US term) however it makes sense for any one managing a busy household to have one. It is essentially an area in the home that is easy to access and has all the important stuff that the household needs on a daily basis such as:

  • Note paper
  • Pens (that work)
  • Mail 
  • School and work notices
  • Documents, flight tickets, concert tickets 
  • Keys
  • Cell phones
  • Household information 
  • Calendar
  • Bags and backpacks
  • Other important daily items
  • Coffee money

Generally these "command centres" are near where people go to when entering the house, mainly the kitchen or dining space. 

My Command Centre

We have used a an area in the kitchen bench for a few years now and I have recently streamlined it as we slowly adjust from a four to two person household.  I have kept it as simple as possible, only housing the items we do use on a daily basis. I have created three zones i) bag zone ii) mail and calendar zone iii) Central zone.


Bag Zone

We both use backpacks, daily, during the week and they need to be easily housed. There was no way that I could get Mr P to put away his backpack in a cupboard, and in fact it mostly got dumped on the floor by the kitchen bench. So in the end I came up with a very simple and easy solution by placing two chairs side by side on which we place our bags on when we come home. These bags always stay on these chairs. We always know where they are.  There is also just enough space to place my weekend shopper on the chair. I place my handbag in the tray in the central zone as it fits perfectly. 

Mail and Calendar Zone

Above the bag zone, on the wall, there is a calendar (my Mum makes one each year for us from her beautiful photos she takes) and a mail board where any mail that comes into the home is placed.

The central zone

Next to the bag zone and just under mail and calendar zone I have placed a wooden tray. In the wooden tray I have got a folder divider and a very small bowl.  The folder divider holds the pens, note book folder, Home folder and RnR folder. The small bowl holds keys, it's only just big enough to hold the key and no more and when the phones are not on charge they are placed here. 

This central zone houses all important items together that we use;

  • Keys 
  • Cell phone
  • Household/home folder (holds all our important information) 
  • Pens and notepad
  • RnR folder
  • My handbag

The notebook compendium I have had for a while and got it from Kikki-K . They do not seem to have it in stock anymore however still have a couple of options here


WHY it works

The most successful thing about this command centre is that I have developed it just for us. I thought about what are the most important things that we need to access and how can I make it easy for Mr P who still likes to dump.

As we walk in the door we naturally go over to the chairs, dump our back packs, keys and cells, sort the mail. I have created functional and obvious space that works well with how we live and does not require us to change a lot. I also believe by keeping the spaces small and specific and no room to put other items, it keeps it clear of clutter gathering. That's not to say that from time to time things do gather however it's easy to clear out the space and maintain a nice tidy area.


In my previous organising and planning posts I have taken your through how I created our Household folder, Budget folder and Recipe folder. We also have a RnR folder (Rest and Recreation), Mr P is in charge of this and it is for planning our mini breaks and other such exciting adventures.

I was getting a little bored with how they looked so thought I would jazz them up a bit with new covers. It was very easy. All I used was;

I just cut the card stock to size, stuck the gold stickers on and then placed the sheet into the shelve of the folder. I also placed the same card on the spine and a plain type paper for the back. Very simple, fun and good way to take a boring folder and make it look interesting.


The best part of this was how I managed to match the two folders in the command centre to the notebook compendium, if you are stationery obsessed like me you will appreciate this.

So how is your "drop zone" ? Is it the entire kitchen bench top? or the kitchen table? Or just anywhere where there is clear space? Maybe try out some of these ideas I shared, or take inspiration to make it meet your needs, either way have a go and you might be surprised what you achieve.

Happy organising my friends

How I created a cocktail cabinet

I am not sure why I became obsessed with having a cocktail cabinet. Perhaps it is because they are so stylish and sophisticated and having one would make me feel the same! Hmm! appears I am still waiting!. My dream is to have a beautiful metal and glass cocktail trolley, just like the one below, now that's class that, right there!. 

Picture Credit from

Picture Credit from


Last Christmas my husband and I hosted our family. As Christmas is celebration time and summertime (yes it's Summer in Southern hemisphere at Christmas) I felt this was the perfect opportunity to create my first cocktail trolley. Now my dream was to have a beautiful cocktail trolley, however that will have to wait until the full kitchen renovations. So as with most things at present, I had to do this on a budget, ideally use as many things as possible that I already had at home. You know the old "shopping my home".

As I did not have a gorgeous trolley, I found an alternate, an old shelf that was not being used. So a Cocktail Cabinet it had to be. The shelf really needed a complete repaint and upcycle. However as I was feeling a wee bit lazy and pressed for time I figured that I would just clean it up and use it as is. Any major scratches and dents were going to be easily covered by the bottles and accessories so I ain't bovvered!!!! (you have to be Catherine Tate fans to get that reference)

"Shopping the house" only got me so much. I realised that I actually did not have a lot of other items that would be useful for the cabinet, so this meant that I needed source elsewhere. So I made a list of the items I needed;

  • Cocktail glasses
  • Crystal decanter
  • Wine cooler/ice bucket
  • Silver tray
  • Decorative accessory
  • Something to house the bottles
  • Cocktail shaker 

I did have crystal tumblers that are good for whiskey, GnT's, Rum and cokes however we did need actual cocktail glasses. 

Now, some of my readers would know that I am a keen op shopper/hospice shopper/second hand shopper/thrifter, whatever you call it. I have been for years and never fail to find some real treasures. I gave myself a challenge to get all the items from the local Hospice shops. I am lucky, here on the North Shore in Auckland, we have these great shops run by the North Shore Hospice .Their shops have great selection of goods, fantastic quality and bargain pricing. 

It took me a few months to collect the items, but hey good things take time!. The first item I found was a lovely wee pot holder, I think it was for a teapot. This I planned to use as part the accessories, thinking that I might but a nice flower vase on it or candle. I actually ended up putting this fun gold coloured Pineapple, which I got at the specials bin at The Warehouse for $5, on it. I just thought it made the desk cocktail cabinet accessory.


After much poking around I eventually found the right sized silver tray. I wanted to put the glasses and decanter on to a tray. As a hint, if you are after a specific item for an area always make sure that you know the measurements. It's a complete waste of money getting something that will not work in the area you want.   I also couldn't believe my luck when I came across this gorgeous little decanter, I just love love love it!!!


How gorgeous are these glasses. My super stylely Fashion designer sister Helen Ryan and awesome Mum gave me these glasses for Christmas. Best of all they got them from the local Hospice Shop..boom.  I just adore them, and they are lovely to drink out of, especially when full with a Brandy Alexandra.

Another gem of a find was the ice bucket or wine cooler it was just perfect and sits next to the Cocktail shaker which I have had for a while. Actually I brought that Cocktail shaker sometime ago, knowing that I was going to set up a cabinet at some point. 


The biggest challenge was the housing of the collection of bottles of alcohol and mixers.  I initially just placed them on the shelves in the cabinet, but I never really liked that and to me it was a bit cluttered looking and not very stylish. Any way it just had to do.......until I walked past an old 80's cane wine rack.  It was like, OMG that's perfect, so I nabbed it before anyone else swooped on it, Cane is really really popular at the moment and it does not sit around long any Hospice shop. 

I took out the middle shelf and just placed the cane rack in the could not have been a better fit! And it houses all the bottles, with a few placed on the sides. 


I am so pleased with how all the items came together and nothing cost more than $5 an item. Although from memory the decanter was $8 or something like that. However I have to confess that I did end up buying something new, that being the New Zealand Birds wall hanging, I thought it rounded off the whole look so well.  That's it folks my cocktail cabinet on a budget. 


We have enjoyed many a night enjoying the occasional cocktail and even our son has been handed on the skill of cocktail making by his Dad.  

As spring and summer is slowly making its way around the corner, maybe you could start to create your own drinks cabinet. 

What's your favourite cocktail?

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How I organized a small wardrobe

Now, for those of you that read along with me and my posts, you will have picked up that Pete and I are slowly renovating and redecorating our 1960s cedar and block home. This is a long process, so far it has been 5 years. There is a lot to do, both inside and out. There are areas of the house that are somewhat outdated and not really fit for purpose and we have to make do until they are renovated. Point in question is our bedroom wardrobe. This wardrobe is actually in our ensuite...yes that is right, our ensuite, and it is all original and I mean 1960 original which is when the house was built. 

We are making do with this area as it will be renovated at the end of the year. In the meantime I have had to work hard on the wardrobe to get it usable, one because it's in a bathroom and two because it is so small for two people. 

Before and After

Before and After

The wardrobe space is still very tight however now at least I have made the most of all space available and access to the clothes is a lot easier. So I thought I would share with you what I have done, so if you have a very small wardrobe and want to get more space, this post may be worth a read. 

The goal

In short there were two things we needed to achieve;

  1. We needed to be able to house all our clothes (except for jackets and Pete's work shoes). 
  2. We had to reduce the amount of moisture that was getting in. I mean who does that!!!! put a wardrobe into a bathroom space!!!!

The plan

Yes, you know me there needs to be a plan. This one was pretty simple, just do some research, get the equipment needed, sort it and refit it out. However there were some challenges.

The biggest challenge was how get a lot of drawer space at the same time as increasing the hanging capacity. The wardrobe had one metal rail with a wooden shelf above it. It also had wasted and difficult space in the middle of the wardrobe because of the sliding doors.

I got my google fingers going and came across an number ideas in YouTube and good old Pinterest. I found this great tutorial from Engineer your Space which gave me the idea to replace the sliding doors with curtains and create another hanging rod by moving up the existing rod and shelf.

However I still needed more storage space and thought about how I can effectively use all the space within the wardrobe.

One particularly good idea came to me was to use an old duchess that was in my daughters room (she has left home and didn't need it). A wee fact, the duchess was my original one from when I was a child, which is kind of special.  

I also brought two hanging shelves and reused a 4tier cube shelf that was no longer being used from my son's room.

The coat hangers were an important part of the plan as I needed to replace them all with the space saver coat hangers, these velvet ones from Briscoes are the best and the clothes do not slip off.


The Design

Firstly I cleared out everything from the wardrobe and did a full purge, both my clothes and Pete's. I am getting pretty good at decluttering and do not hang onto items that I do not use much. I have actually discovered over the years that you wear probably about 20% of your clothes 90% of the time. I am now down to that 20% and it does feel great because trying to figure out what to wear is so easy.

I am lucky with Pete, he is a Tradie so only has his work gear and pretty much just jeans, t's and shirts so his clothes don't take up a lot of space.

The next step was to map out how to set up all the rails and storage. You do need to measure each area and work out what will fit best and it took me a few goes to get this right.  It is very helpful to do this first as it really helps when you put it all together.



Putting it all together

Pete moved the clothes rod and shelf up for me, just as shown in the Engineer your Space video, link above. I purchased a piece of aluminium tubing and chain to create another rail. This allowed me to hang two tiers of clothes where before I could only hang one. 


I placed a 4 tier cube shelf on its side on the top shelf. This not only provided more "drawers" but also provided a space to put my shoes.

With my duchess, I did give it a bit of spruce up. As it was already a bit knocked around I just distressed it a little more by sanding it on the edges and the handles. I did a quick once over with the sander on the top and front, then just used a sealant spray which I got from the local hardware store. I have to say I was actually really pleased with how it came up. It was also really cool to be able to use my old duchess again.

I got an old cushion cover, put a little bit of padding in it and placed on the top of the duchess. This is where I put my everyday jewellery, it's perfect and easy to get to.


I placed the duchess in the middle of the wardrobe and put the hanging shelves above it, this was an excellent way to fill dead vertical space. 

All the longer clothes are hung to the left of the duchess and Pete's shirts and trousers.

To house his work clothes I got a basket and this sits on the floor under his hanging clothes. It works well as its stores his work trousers and tops.

A wee added bonus was the area to hang my scarf collection. I used the chain that held the second rail to wrap my scarves around and worked perfectly as a scarf hanger.

The last thing I did was to hang the curtains. I had a brain wave and came up with the idea to use shower curtains to help keep the moisture out of the wardrobe. So I got two shower curtains and essentially hung them up as you would in the shower. I did make sure that I hung them on the inside of the frame so there was full cover over the clothes. As the curtains were not actually long enough I just sewed on a piece of cotton material onto the bottom, matching colour of course. I am amazed at how well this works. It's really easy to access the clothes and they do hold out the moisture which is really great.

So there you have it, a "make do" wardrobe which houses all our clothes. It works really well and does stop me from buying clothes as there is really no room. If I want something new I have to let something go.

I am however very excited to plan my new big wall to wall wardrobe when we do the renovation and this "make do" one has given me some great learnings and ideas for the new one.

Are you happy with your wardrobe? Do you want to make some changes? Have you already got your dream wardrobe?

Love to hear from you on any wardrobes stories.

Have a great week everyone, and see you at the next post. 

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How I created an Emergency kit

Planning for an emergency was not something that many New Zealanders would have thought to the past! We are a small country with a young and moving physical environment. A narrow land mass that gets battered in the South with storms straight off the Antarctic and pounded by Tropical Cyclones in the North. So as a result of Mother Natures impact and unpredictability most Kiwis would now have some form of "go to kit".  It was the recent series of Cyclones coming through the top of the North Island that prompted me to ensure that what we had as a family would be a sufficient emergency kit.



So I knew that the "go to kit" we had was by no means an emergency kit. It just contained some candles, matches, torches, portable radio and batteries. So I set myself the mission of creating a proper emergency kit. To be honest I was not entirely sure where to start, so I got onto Mr Google and did some research. There are a number of good blogs on this subject, especially in the US. If you are wanting to get serious, check this blog, from A Bowl Full of Lemons, which has a whole series on building an emergency preparedness station. For something much more low key, smaller, simpler and cheaper check out Doitonadime.

I actually found that the New Zealand government website getthru really helpful. There is a lot of very helpful information and all things that you need to consider in planning and preparing for an emergency. There is a great printable PDF emergency checklist that I used to help create our kit as well as complete the planning. 

Gathering the items

So having decided on creating an emergency kit which needed to support us for 3 days, I realised that I would have to source most of the items. As you can imagine this was going to potentially be a bit of a cost. Although it was important to get most items I did want to be mindful of the cost. So this is where I took the idea from Doitonadime and sourced a lot of items from my local $2 store. Now it is important to know what is ok to purchase with value in mind and those items that need to be of robust quality. 

Before I rushed off to the shops I did "shop the house" to see if I could find any items that were surplus to requirements and put it into the kit.

Items purchased

Food - All non perishable (at least 1 year to expiry) - These were all purchased from the supermarket



  • Tuna
  • Spaghetti
  • Rice pudding
  • Fruit salad
  • Protein bars
  • Weet-bix bars
  • Can opener
  • Plastic knives, forks and spoons

Health and Safety Items


  • Prescription medicine
  • Face masks *
  • Hand sanitiser*
  • Toilet paper*
  • Toothbrushes*
  • Tissues*
  • First aid kit*
  • Antiseptic spray and alcoholic wipes*
  • plastic gloves*
  • Wipes*

Other items

  • Torch and Batteries*
  • Scissors*
  • lighter*
  • Matches
  • Large plastic rubbish bags*
  • Tarpaulin*
  • Playing cards*
  • Notebook and pen*
  • Water bottles


Apart from the odd item that I had at home, I purchased all the food from the supermarket and all those with an asterisk, I got from the local $2 shop. So it did not cost a lot to put together.

An important part of the kit is to include any prescription medication.  Try and have enough to last a week. If your prescription expires then just simply keep a record of the expiry date and swap it out prior and use it. This means that by rotating it you are not wasting the medicine. 


The best and easiest way to store all the items is in a large plastic box. These are cheap and easy to purchase from any local hardware or homeware store. Just ensure that it seals well. I purchased this Sistema storage box from the Warehouse

A good piece of advice is to place the kit in an easily accessible place. It is likely that you will forget all about it if it is shoved to the to the back of a cupboard. An open shelf in the garage or laundry is ideal. If you are tight on room you could put it at the bottom of your pantry, or in a cabinet, but again it needs to be easily accessible.

I have placed our kit on the open shelves where the luggage and backpacks are. This actually also serves a purpose as we can just grab one of the backpacks to put the items from the kit into if we can`t take the kit with us in a car. 

Records and review

A number of items will have expiry dates so it is important to ensure that you review all the contents at least yearly to ensure that the are up to date.

Also put a copy of the list and all important documents and contact details into the kit. 

Lastly just task in your diary or calendar, manual or electronic, an annual date to review all contents as well as ensuring that all the documents and contacts list are still correct. The best idea is to task in your computer diary the dates the food items are going to expire so you can use and replace them.

That's it folks, it was not a big job and not a big cost. I have to say that my mind is at ease a bit now that I have finally got the Emergency Kit sorted. 

I would love to hear about your kits, what do you have in the kit, where do you store it?, have you ever used one?  



How I Updated our bedroom on a budget

After 20 plus years of essentially sharing our bedroom with our kids, I decided it was time to upgrade it. We are undertaking a major renovation project at the end of the year which will include our bedroom, however I could not wait until then, I wanted to make some changes now...perhaps a symptom of empty nest syndrome. Also with the onset of winter I wanted a nice cosy and slightly more stylish room. 

Master bedroom prior to update

Master bedroom prior to update


My husband couldn't see the point of doing anything to the room as we going to be renovating at the end of the year. So I knew that it wouldn't be fair to get him involved, so getting him to help was not going to be an option!.  Therefore I had to set myself some boundaries;

  • no painting
  • no new furniture
  • no new bedding

One big bonus was that I had already purchased a new upholstered headboard. A new headboard was always going to be included in the renovation later in the year, however one came up on special that I really wanted to so I got it. It was to be stored until later but well I just couldn`t wait. So at least I had one new piece of furniture to play with. 

The new headboard

The new headboard


The plan

Apart from the new headboard, I was a bit stumped with what I could do, that...well...would tart up our bedroom.  After a number of hours spent staring at the room I ventured upon a cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasle!!! (it's a quote from Blackadder!)

In the end I came up with just four changes that I hoped would make the difference that I wanted;

  • Move the placement of the bed and the bedside cabinets
  • Upgrade the bedside lamps and lamp shades
  • Put up curtains
  • Change out the old headboard for the new one

The work

This first thing I did was to remove the old bedhead and set up the new one. As I had to move the bed around in the room it was not a big job.  I decided to place the old headboard into the spare guest room and am surprised by how good it looks. It was also an opportunity to give everything a good spring clean and freshen up the linen. 

The bedside cabinets are on the large side, which means that it is a tight fit to get the bed and both cabinets betweens the doors. It has been useful to experiment with this as I now know that when we complete the full renovations we will need to rethink the best options for the bedside furniture as there is really not a lot of space

Beside the bedhead, the curtains were the only other item that I actually purchased. To get the effect I was after I wanted simple sheer curtains. One large single curtain to go across the window and two at either end to give texture and depth. It was just a matter of rumbling through the special bins at the local Spotlight store to find what I was after.  I was lucky to pick up what I wanted for $70.

Once home I did iron out the curtains to smooth out all the fold's always a good hint to iron the curtains as it gets rid of all the lines and enables them to hang nicely.

Master bedroom new curtains

Master bedroom new curtains

Traditionally I do not decorate the house for seasons, which seems to be a thing! Really do not need more stuff and storage of it for 6 months of the year!. However I did go all out and put out the winter throw on the bed. This brings a nice cosy feel to the room. 

The last and biggest job was the upgrade of the lamps. Actually I think the lamps made the biggest difference to the room. Honestly I was sooo pleased with how they turned out. It was not a difficult job, just needed a bit of spray paint and new shades. If you are interested in how I did this, just check out my post here where I share all the details on redoing the lamps.

The look

Master bedroom with new headboard and lamps

Master bedroom with new headboard and lamps

I am so happy with how everything came together, it's just want I needed and provides a nice update to keep me going until the full renovation. Surprisingly it has been really helpful for me in planning and designing the renovations as there are some things that I will need to reconsider to make the space more functional.

So there you have it another simple and easy way to turn a bit of a frumpy space into a great place. 

I would love to hear from you on thoughts for the upcoming renovation. What would you do in this space? All ideas welcome.


A Mum says goodbye

8:55pm , 17th November 1996 I am holding her in my arms, just staring at her, she's mine, she's mine, she's mine. Am I really a Mum? Look at her she is soooo beautiful, her smell oh her smell, I can not get enough of her, wanting to never let her go. 


20 years later, I hold her hand and let her go. She is all grown up now and has left home. We raised our kids to leave us and they are.

He is my little boy, my youngest, my sweet wee man. He is 18 now and getting on a jet plane to join the Air Force, bye my son, bye my wee man, who I used to hold in my arms.

I am crying, sobbing I know they have to leave us and we want them to but they are my babies. They have to go, they want to go. I see them with excitement and adventures in their eyes, mine just fighting back the tears that I can't show. My heart hurts and sings at the same time. 

My emotions are all over the place, anticipation and excitement for them, and for us for our new adventures but it's a struggle to see the rooms empty out. 

Apparently this is called empty nest syndrome!  

I look at all the blogs, social media, magazine, TV shows, You tube channels focused on raising children. There is so much support and information out there now, it's great, especially for new Mums as it can be a lonely job. However there is not a lot when it comes to the other end of parenting, letting them go. Apparently the average age of children at home in New Zealand is 27!.  I could not believe that, a fully grown adult still living with parents at 27. 

So why at the age of 20 and 18 are our children leaving. It's simple really because they are adults and they need to be their own people have their own lives and most importantly take responsibility for it. When they were young we decided what sort of adults we wanted them to be and some of the characteristics they would need was independence and resilience. They had to learn skills to run their own lives, and it's sooo easy to run it for them and they will let you too. As a parent saying no and making tough decisions is very hard and often it is easier to fall back to doing it for them, or as Mr Dad would say, "you are enabling them"

Ms 20 left home to go flatting at the start of her second year at University, she was actually 19. We live in the same city so she could stay at home as most students do. However she needs her own space and place to spread her wings. She worked hard and saved all her money to have a cushion behind her to go flatting. She is a full time student as well as working to cover all her expenses, she is not financially dependant on us. 

Mr 18 is the same, having worked in school holidays since he was 15. He brought his first car and covered all running costs at the age of 17. The last 18 months have been dedicated to getting accepted into the Air Force, the goal which he achieved. He is also independent and not financially dependant on us and can't wait to get on that plane.

As parents this is the type of adult we wanted our children to be, we love to see them succeed on their own and not need us, no matter how painful that is because that is our job, to be parents. To show them they way to the door and watch them run out it into the sunshine!






How to Repaint and upgrade your old bedside lamps

It's probably been at least 10 to 15 years since we brought our bedside table lamps. Actually, with most things in our bedroom, while raising children, they have had a hard life. When they were little they never seemed to be out of our our bed or and just hanging out in our bedroom. Even now they sometimes kick us out of our bed when feeling sick...yes! and they are now 20 and 18. However all is changing with Ms 20 already flown the coop and Mr 18 due to leave home to join the Air Force at the end of this month. 

So it's now time to start to think about making our bedroom more our own and bringing a bit of sophistication to it!

I thought that it would be easy to start with those poor tired lamps. As we are planning a full ensuite and wardrobe renovation later in the year and redecoration of the room, I didn`t want to go too crazy now and certainly didn't want to spend too much....but I did want to make some changes now......helps, I think, with dealing with the empty nest emotions!!

So the lamps got a make over. A total new paint job and new shades. And if I don`t say so myself they look great. It was sooo easy and quick and here is how I did it.


Decide on the design/style

So as to not waste too much of your hard earned money, take the time to decide how you want the lamps to look, colour, texture, shape and style of lamp. Good old Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration if you are not sure.

Try and get a sense of the colour you want for the base and the lamps (shape and colour). This is really helpful when it comes to shopping.

For our lamps I wanted the lamp base colour to be silver and the lamp shade colour black and the shape had to be large round/rectangle style.

I was super pleased as I found the perfect lampshades at Bunnings, local hardware store, and they were down to $10 each. 

The paint colour was actually easy as I had already used it in a previous job and I loved it and the tone and texture was going to go so well with the linen and accessories already in the room.

Get the Equipment

The only equipment you need is for the painting.

  • Sandpaper - to rough up the surface of the lamps, this helps the paint to adhere better. I would suggest that medium grade would be best.
  • Paint - I used a spray paint. I have used spray paints for a number of home projects and I find that the Rust-Oleum is the best and I get really good even coverage.
  • Plastic bag and tape - you need to cover the light bulb area and the cord so they are not sprayed. I just cut off sections of plastic bag and tape them over the areas I need to cover up.
  • Old sheet or drop cloth - as you are using spray paint you need to cover the area as there is a bit of spray residue when using spray paint.
  • Outside - You should spray outside, when there is little are asking for trouble to do it inside


Get Painting 

First thing to do is to get yourself set up outside with the drop cloth and lamps.

Take the old shades off and remove the light bulbs. Then cover up the areas of the lamp with plastic and tape. Get the sandpaper and rough up all the surface area that you want to paint. I did not go crazy on the sanding, just a light once over was fine.



Next step is the spraying of the lamps. Don't come in too close, you want to stand back, be a good arms length away as this ensures a consistent application. Make sure that you keep turning them to ensure that you get an even coverage on all sides.  I did three layers of spray paint, allowing a good 30-50 mins between each to allow the paint to dry.



Now that you have finished the painting just have a good look over all the area to ensure that the paint has been applied evenly. You may need to touch up a bit if there are gaps.

Once you are happy with the paint work and it is nice and dry remove all the plastic covers.

Then lastly just put the new lamp shade onto the lamp.


That is it folks!, that's all it took to get a completely new look for the lamps. I am really pleased with them and I think they fit nicely with our current colours and decor.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has transformed their lamps, pics would be great, and any good tips and hints.

Stay tuned for my next post where I reveal more bedroom updates.

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