Building Our Dream Home: Part Four

It is scary to think that this could potentially (probably) be the last Christmas in our current house before the big move to our self built home. When we started the process of applying for planning permission I said each year (with hope) that next year we would be in our new house but as the years passed and more stumbling blocks came our way, I stopped and began to doubt it ever would become reality. Now I say it with excitement that 2020 could be the year we move into our self build!

After our planning permission was passed in early December 2018 we were ecstatic to hit the ground running but *wham* I found out I was pregnant just after Christmas. We really debated whether to begin the build or hold off until after the baby arrived but thankfully with the encouragement of family we struck ground and our foundations began in February 2019. I’m so glad we listened to them. Although I was afraid that we were taking on too much, and of the financial strain, I’m so glad we didn’t waste these eight months.

A few months after the foundations began, our bricklayers had the shell of our house up and the roof started in August 2019. In fact, when I went into hospital for my c-section the roof was just wood and when I came out a couple of days later there was felt & tiles!

We are now almost 8 months from beginning the foundations and our roof is finished, bricklayers are done and the windows are ordered, in fact we will be watertight by Christmas!

Although this is meant to be the quick part, it has been somewhat slower for us as we have had the help of family and friends who work in the industry. This meant some of the work was completed during evenings and weekends but we didn’t mind the hold up- we are just thankful for the help!

Now that we have Isa’s diagnosis (you can read about it here) we are in much more of a hurry to speed things along than we previously were. We have the insulation lined up for the week the windows are done, first fix of electrics has started and the plumbing first fix should begin this week.

Before when people asked me had I an end date I joked “as long as I’m in it before I’m 35 – I’m 27) now I’m firmly set on April 2020 to allow us to move in before I go back to work from my maternity leave and before Isa truly starts on the more complex part of her weaning journey.

It is such an exciting journey for us and we are loving this stage of the build, especially in following along with other accounts on Instagram. I have been trying much harder to pop up on my stories when I’m in show rooms etc!

So here is to the next 7 months. May they fly by and may our home finally be finished 😊

Always look back on how far you’ve come

Sometimes you have to look back and realise how far you have come.

4 years ago I walked out of my job, newly married with no way to pay the bills. It was a job I hated & I dreaded going to work everyday. I had never taken risks before and honestly I still feel like it was the most ballsy thing I’ve ever done but I was petrified and felt like a failure. I got a part time job to make ends meet and 4 years later I now manage that organisation and adore my job, as well as the people I work with.

3 years ago we were facing the harsh realities of IVF and the fear we would never have children. I was petrified I would never get to hold my own baby or get to experience motherhood. Now I’m writing this cuddling my two beautiful girls.

2 years ago we got hit with the stark reality thay we couldn’t get a mortgage to build our family home due to the restrictions on our land. I had always wanted to build on our family land and have my children experience the incredible childhood I was lucky to experience. We thought, screw it we’ll just start and work it out as we go. 2 years later and we are over half we there and should be in by the end of 2020!

Now we’ve been hit with Isa’s diagnosis. This post could be depressing and a “feel sorry for me” post but it isn’t. You see, although Isa’s Homocystinuria diagnosis was the scariest experience to date, I know we can face it head on. We’ve tackled some mental things over the past 4 years but none of them have beaten us yet and none of them will.

No matter what you are going through you can deal with it. You are stronger than it and this curve ball won’t last long. I firmly believe every experience makes you stronger and we are proof that if you don’t give up, you will beat it.

I can look around me tonight and I know that despite the challenges I am hugely, hugely blessed and so are you.

Our New Normal

Our New Normal… Monday 30th September. The day things changed for us forever. It’s funny really. You wake up thinking the day is just like any other and in a split second everything you knew is whipped from beneath you.

Isa was 2 days of turning three weeks old when they told us. You know to panic when you get a call and an appointment with a consultant on the same day. Maybe that is why I don’t remember much, the panic.
Homocystinuria. Such a long name for something such a tiny person has. Something so complicated for someone whose life is so simple. I bet you haven’t heard of it. Either had we. That’s because it is so rare. There’s only a handful of people with it in N.I.

The first few days after Isa was diagnosed whizzed by. Truth be told we cried, googled and cried some more. Trying to process what this meant for our family and how we would move forward. The fear of what could happen to her swamped us.

Five days later and this has become our new normal. We know now life will consist of weekly blood tests and hospital appointments but that’s ok. Now the elephant in the room is actually a mouse and we are ready to tackle this head on. We have some huge challenges ahead of us but we know how lucky we are and how different this could have been if it hadn’t of been picked up early. We know there are many others worse off than us with worse diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plans. We have so much to be grateful for and we sure as hell are going to say thank you every day for the rest of our lives that we know how to keep our little girl safe.

Photography by Angel NI

Introducing Isabella Eve Hill

She’s here 🤩

Finally, after what seemed like the longest pregnancy ever, she is here. Baby Isabella (Isa) Eve Hill was born on 11th September and she has already transformed our little family.

Thankfully everything went well and Isa was born safe and sound via planned c-section in Craigavon Area Hospital (who I can’t thank enough!) – the staff are angels!

This time around we had a planned c-section (Annie was an emergency c-section) so I knew I was going in on Wednesday morning although I have to admit I was incredibly nervous. I had a fantastic experience having a c-section with Annie so throughout my pregnancy I wasn’t worried about the thought of another c-secton, but the night before I couldn’t help but be sick with worry. In fact, I barely spoke to Carl during the trip to the hospital at 6am on Wednesday 11th morning.

When we arrived on the morning of the c-section, everything went smoothly which helped to calm my nerves. We arrived at Craigavon around 6.30am, to give me some time to drink my pre-op drink. We headed into the maternity assessment unit around 7am where the midwives took me straight in to get changed into my gown. A short time later and I met with the midwives/anaethetists to discuss the surgery and sign paperwork. After a little waiting around, plenty of magazine flicking and not much chat, I was called first to surgery at 8.45am. Less than an hour later Isa was born with a little yelp at 9.35am happy and healthy.

Both Annie and Isa were born in Craigavon with the same doctor completing my operation but my goodness the c-section felt different the second time around! People did warn me that my recovery would be longer second time around but I felt the pulling and tugging in Isa’s c-section was definitely more pronounced than Annie’s – lets just say, after those feelings, I’ll not be rushing for a 3rd c-section any time soon!

Apart from being a little anaemic this time my recovery has been great, in fact we got to go home after only one night (two is recommended but I couldn’t wait to get home to Annie). I definitely forgot how much I was knocked off my feet the first time and I think I underestimated how tired I would feel this time around having a two year old and a newborn to look after but it is no more than expected – I couldn’t have a better reason to be tired.

Photography by Angel NI.

New Years Resolutions

This week I have been thinking a lot about my New Years Resolutions. I know as we get older a lot of people eye roll at the thought of setting New Years Resolutions but being honest, I eye roll at the eye rollers!

Why is setting goals and aspirations for the year ahead something to snigger at? Yes I appreciate many will set unrealistic, pointless New Years Resolutions but if they are used right, I think they are a really useful.

Each year around Christmas, I really try to use my time off to think over the past year; what went well, what didn’t go so well, what I loved and what I didn’t like so much. It is from this that I set my New Years Resolutions. From personal goals to work related targets, I think of it all.

Personal New Years Resolutions

Last year I set myself the resolution to plan one activity a month for me. Being a new mum it is easy to forget about you and very often no one else will think to drag you from your sick covered pj’s. Each month I planned something I wanted to do for me whether it was to relax or spend time with friends. I headed to Galgorm Resort and Spa with the girls one month and booked a day trip to Dublin with Carl for another. I really loved that I had something planned to look forward to each month and as it was planned in advance it was easy to organise childcare too! I’ll definitely be keeping this New Years Resolution in play this year!

This year however I want to do something I haven’t done in years; the arts. Recently I went along to Aly Hartes workshop in Boden Coffee Co and it really reignited my love for art. Honestly, since leaving school I think I have forgotten the things I used to love; music, art, drama, reading, writing. We are so wrapped up in our busy lives that we can often forget to take time for us to do something we enjoy just for the fun of it! So thanks to Aly, I’m setting myself the resolution of getting back into the arts! My paints & pencils are purchased, I asked family for some books that caught my eye and I’m looking at how I can work the others into hectic mum life!

Work Related New Years Resolutions

This has become so normal for me to think of aims and targets in work and with our home business. I truly believe in personal development and always striving for better, so much so that I do this every month!

This year though I am setting myself the goal to blog more about business. In work I manage a domiciliary business and at home I manage my husbands business. We both are crazy busy and juggling it all is hectic but both Carl and I love the chaos. I love encouraging others to try something new and to be the best them so I hope you’ll enjoy this new part of the blog.

Carl and I have set our targets for the year for the business for the new year and I have set mine for my job and for me in work – these are two totally different things and should be viewed individually. My goals for what courses I want to do or how I want to develop myself are different to the company goals.

I always keep these totally under wraps but I keep a dream board at home which lets me read my goals everyday and reminds me why I want to hit them. Nothing annoys me more than missing a goal so seeing these everyday is a massive driving force for me.

What are your thoughts on New Years Resolutions? Do you stick to them? Do you try? Are they realistic? Or do you just see them as a pointless activity?

Beauty Review: Dermaplane 24k Gold Facial

Lately I have been so bad at looking after my skin. The lead up to Christmas meant that my mind was focused on other things and even though I know better, I resorted back to soap & water, high street cheapie moisturisers and I’m pretty sure my make up brushes have a second skin (yuck!). I had been researching facials that were good for exfoliation and magically a few days later Tamlyn McNeilly contacted me to try out a Dermaplane 24k Gold Facial with her!

What is Dermaplane?

After researching different exfoliating facials Dermaplane jumped out at me for its deep exfoliation. Dermaplane is a manual exfoliation that removes up to three weeks worth of dead skin and peach fuzz or baby hair from your face without causing it to grow back thicker or darker.

What happens during a Dermaplane 24k Gold Facial?

After cleansing, a sterile, surgical scalpel is used to gently “shave” along the skins surface, removing the top layer of dead skin along with peach fuzz. This is totally pain free and actually relaxing! Afterwards a face mask is applied to sooth the skin – maximising the relaxation!

What are the benefits of Dermaplane?

After the treatment my skin felt silky smooth. My make up went on much easier (it even encouraged me to wash my brushes) as the treatment is designed to leave a flawless base for applying make up. It also has no downtime and the results last for up to 6 weeks – making my life much easier as trying to fit in time for facials at the minute is not easy! As it is a deep exfoliation it also helps your skin absorb any products applied afterwards. This helps to soothe and hydrate your skin afterwards.

Some other benefits include:-

  • Reducing the appearance of acne scars
  • Diminishing the look of fine lines
  • It works on most skin types (Tamlyn can advise you better on your skin type and if the treatment is suitable for you)

My skin has been insanely congested for around 3/4 months now but I noticed a huge difference post facial. Tamlyn showed me what came from my skin after the facial (prepare yourself!) and it is no wonder my skin feels smoother and my make up is applying easier.

Tamlyn was so kind throughout my treatment. It was obvious she wanted me to get the most relaxation from the treatment (perfect for mums with extreme exhaustion levels!) but I loved that she also talked me through the process so that I knew what to expect.

You can check out Tamlyn’s Instagram page here and her Facebook page here.

#gifted

Talking Bathrooms with Bassetts

Now that we have (finally!) got moving again on our self-build I am obsessing over interiors and dreaming of what our future home will look like. From bold bathrooms to quaint kitchens my mind is swamped thinking of what I want (and a little bit of what will be easiest to clean). With that being said, I was over the moon when Bassetts invited me down to check out some of their new bathroom pieces in their Boucher Road showroom.

Coming from a family of plumbers, Bassetts was a name that I grew up hearing a lot – if they could satisfy grumpy plumbers searching for bathroom pieces, surely they had to be good (disclaimer: I presume not all plumbers are grumpy, it could be just the plumbers in my childhood home?)

Here are my top three reasons why you should check out your local Bassetts showroom:

Great Customer Service

Klaire and Giles in Bassetts Boucher Rd showroom kindly showed me and Annie around when we called down and not only was I impressed with the range of bathroom suites on offer but they were very accommodating and kind to Annie and I. It isn’t easy taking a 17 month old around showrooms but they made it easy for me to have a good look around.

Something for Everyone

I was surprised to find there was something for everyone. From pastels to metallics, statement pieces to smaller pieces I loved that I could find something for all three bathrooms in our self build. Bassetts also regularly update their displays and a few of the displays I seen had only been recently placed in the showroom.

Wealth of Knowledge & Experience

From the outset, Claire took an interest in our self-build and helping us in our bathroom decisions. We chatted about how our ensuite is much smaller than we had first expected but she quickly showed me some displays and explained how we could maximise the space and have a beautiful bathroom. It was obvious she knew her stuff and was able to recommend pieces for each individual customer which I loved.

Self-building is no easy task but coming across people who want to help you make the best, informed decisions is fantastic. I really appreciated the team taking the time to talk over our bathroom dilemmas and help advise on possible solutions. Thankfully, I have a better idea on the style of bathrooms I want throughout the house now – a big benefit from having seen a wide range of styles and options today.

If you are on the hunt for a bathroom, Bassetts have showrooms in Portadown, Bangor, Belfast, Clady, Coleraine, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Lisburn, L’derry, Mallusk, Newry or Omagh.

*A huge thank you to the team in Bassetts for inviting me down to check out their showroom. Although this was a paid post all opinions are my own and I am already planning another trip.

Managing Mum Guilt

After an incredible day at the Digi Talk conference with work, I am home with a cup of tea curled up on the sofa. This week has been a crazy one, in fact this Summer has been a crazy one. Home life is busy and work is even busier (in a great way) but sometimes that means me working when I get home or staying late at the office….. leaving me with a serious case of #mumguilt

I’m not the only one that gets mum guilt, right? That feeling at the end of the day when you put them to bed and think about all the ways that you could have been a better mum. You could have read them a bed time story, cooked more veggies or played more sensory activities like the mums on Instagram… but you didn’t.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to juggle it all. The professional job, Mrs Hinch clean house, Joules dressed children and Instagram worthy days out but in reality some days are just a struggle to make it to the end of the day.

Over the past few months I have started to change the people I follow on social media because of all this. I was continually clicking onto Instagram and feeling guilty for being a bad parent; not taking Annie to the park after work or gabbing a Chinese on the way home from work on a Friday afternoon. Now I spend my time following other mums who, yes have fabulous looking grids but also keep it real and tell you when they are having the crazy busy, snot covered, sleepless nights.

These are the badass women to me, the ones who keep it real and cut the nonsense because lets be honest, we all get mum guilt but we are all just trying to work our way through this crazy maze of parenthood.

Building Our Dream Home: Part Three

Happy Sunday everyone!

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend. This weekend has just flown by…why can’t weekdays go as quickly! (*sigh!) This weekend I spent the majority of my time flicking through Pinterest, Instagram and blog pages trying to make decisions for our self build so I thought I would also update you all on our progress so far.

Our final set of plans (hopefully!) were submitted in the Summer. Three sets of plans and 18 months later, we thought we had what would suit us as first time self builders but would also suit the planners – it was not an easy task.

Note: I have quickly learnt that in this process, when someone tells you they are going to do something by a date, they may not always stick to it. If I can give you any piece of advice thus far it is to take matters into your own hands and follow up with all involved in the process regularly! We could have easily saved 3-4 months if I had of known this which is disappointing but hopefully we can stop others falling into the same trap.

After a follow up call with the planner and architect two weeks ago, they explained that our plans had been recommended for approval and were now being sent to the Senior Planner therefore we should have them (hopefully approved) in around 5 days…… that was 2 weeks ago!! I have followed up and followed up but still nothing – I don’t think these people realise how impatient I am.

Behind the scenes, it had really given me the boost to start decision making and planning further using NI companies. This week I have been to see kitchens and bathrooms and honestly what I thought I wanted has been totally thrown out. Originally we wanted a traditional Shaker kitchen but after seeing more modern kitchen styles in Richardson Cardy’s in Lisburn I think we may jump ship. Similarly, after visiting Soaks Bathrooms we were originally going for a mix of a traditional ensuite with modern main bathroom but now we have switched these or may even ditch the traditional.

Note: I cannot recommend these two showrooms enough for their help, ideas and assistance. We are dealing with Ian in Soaks and Andy in Cardys and both men are fantastic and very patient.

If you haven’t guessed by now decision making is not my strong point. I think I know what I want but then I get distracted and confused (nightmare!). Although I love the traditional style, I know my current kitchen is a nightmare to clean with all the nooks and crannies in the cupboards but on the flip side, a modern kitchen ages far more quickly.

In short, we are three steps forward and possibly two steps back but I’m not complaining – I’m just glad we are finally moving in the right direction again. Please let me know if you have any recommendations for showrooms or advice on the traditional vs modern…. it could take me another 6 months to decide which to go for.

Our Enniskillen Get-a-way

Happy Sunday!

I hope you have had the loveliest, chilled weekend with loved ones! After walking the length of ourselves around Glenariff Forest Park today, Carl and I are tucked up on the sofa relaxing – boy we are unfit! We are a little down in the dumps though, thinking about this time last week, when we were curled up on the sofa in our beautiful lakeside cabin adjoining Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen.

If you follow my social media, you will know that we were really looking forward to the trip. Carl and I have wanted to go for a VERY long time and after a stressful few weeks it was well needed. The pictures looked incredible and reviews from friends and family were just as great so we couldn’t wait.

When we arrived we couldn’t believe how incredible the cabins were. The glass fronted building looks out over the lake with breathtaking views from ear to ear. Each morning we stepped out over the threshold onto our own private decking area and took in the views of the lake and passing boats – it couldn’t have been any more relaxing. I love cooking, and being able to cook whilst looking out over the water suited me perfectly.

The lodges are equipped with everything you would need whilst self-catering. From a dishing water to cooking utensils, pots and pans to tea bags, we were well catered for. This was the first time we had been self-catering on a Northern Ireland break and we found it so much easier with having Annie. Taking a one-year-old away comes with its own challenges but she loved waking up every morning and pulling out the hoover. I did become a little obsessed with the in-house G Tech Cordless hoover the lodges have (as did Annie!) which led to us fighting over it most of the time. I have definitely asked Santa for one and I’ll be adding a toy hoover to Annie’s Santa list so she will leave my new one alone!

You can check out the one I am talking about here & thank me later: https://amzn.to/2P1BXPI

Before going away, we decided we wanted to go somewhere new in Enniskillen each day. After getting married there 4 years ago, we realised that we knew very little about the quaint town as we had always just stayed in our hotels. We soaked up as many events, walking trips and National Trusts sights as we could during our short stay ad even had time for a little boat trip along Lough Erne! Enniskillen is filled with National Trust buildings and sightseeing potential – Annie especially loved Castle Coole where she thought she should move in.

The lodges are fantastic and if you love water or just want someone to stay with family with spectacular views then I would highly recommend the lodges! We already can’t wait to revisit them again in the new year!

The Chocolatiest Nutella Brownies EVER!

If you love chocolate AND nutella then this one is for you! I have to admit I was never a chocolate lover until I came across a recipe for Nutella Brownies and now I am obsessed. Make sure to save some nutella to pop into your mixture before baking – it may be the best tip I ever give you!

Ingredients

5 tbsp soft butter

100g brown sugar

2 eggs

2tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp salt

400g nutella (remember to keep some to the side!)

Method

1. Beat your butter until soft. Then add your sugar and continue to beat.

2. Crack in two eggs followed by the vanilla essence & salt.

3. While continuing to beat the mixture add in your nutella (leaving some to the side for later).

4. Spoon the mixture into two cake tins. Take the remainder of your nutella and pop blobs of it into the mixture. This will give you yummy bites of nutella in your brownies 😍 Bake your brownies at 180 for around 30-35mins.

Let me know what you think 😍😍

2018 is All About the Brows

When they say “your brows are the one thing you can get into shape without exercising” they aren’t wrong! This month I took the plunge and FINALLY got my eyebrows microbladed after months and months of deliberation.

What is Microblading

Microblading is a form of semi-permanent make up used to enhance or correct facial aesthetics.

My Why

I have always had a pretty good shape to my brows but I loathe filling them in and I am atrocious at it. I wanted to wake up with brows and go to bed with brows with never having to worry about them being “on fleek” or not.

What Microblading Process

I decided to go with the Phi Brows process of microblading.

Phi Brows use a bespoke golden ratio tool to get a precise and acurate map of each and every clients eyebrows.”

I love that the colour pigment used would be picked to match my natural eyebrow colour and that my brows would be completed in line with my facial shape rather than a generic template.

The Phi Brows Process

So I booked my consultation with Rebekah Ward Cosmetic Artist to hear a little more about the process, have my patch test and book my appointment.

On the day, I completed my consultation forms and read up on my aftercare. The process was started by Rebekah drawing on the shape for me to check before she started.

One round of microblading was completed on each brow before anesthetic was applied and another round completed. The process involes using sterile, disposable tools and it feels like “scraping” on the skin – it is in no way unbearable.

The whole process took around an hour but only 15/20minutes of that was the actually microblading!

Aftercare

Rebekah was fantastic in giving me simple to follow step by step aftercare for the next 7-10days which involves applying vasaline and keeping them clean.

My Results

I am in awe of my results! I still can’t believe how incredible they are after one treatment. I wanted them to look natural but full and that is what I got.

I’ll go back to Rebekah in 4-6 weeks time for my top up as I know 10-15% of the strokes can be lost after the 1st treatment but for now I can’t wait to see what they will look like when they settle in a weeks time.

You can check out Rebekah’s incredible work here: https://www.instagram.com/rebekahward.cosmeticartist/