One year on- house plans update

A little more than a year on, but in April last year, I was musing on stuff I wanted to do around the house… in a nutshell, this included:

-Sort out the back garden. I don’t think we’re any further on with this than we were last April- it’s looking pretty nice, because the stuff we did do is starting to grow, but there’s still one patchy looking flower bed and we’ve done nothing in the front garden. Mark is also still making noises about putting a path down to the Smadlington Arms

-Decorate and theme the room at the end of the garden. Ah-ha- done! The aforementioned Smadlington Arms. We turned half into a sort of gym, and half into a pub, complete with bar and darts board. It probably deserves its’ own post, because it’s pretty cool

-Paint either the front or back windows. Yeah, we didn’t do this. Really really need to do one side of the house this summer though, cos the frames are going to start rotting if we’re not careful.

Well, the super extension of our dreams is still on the cards, but it’s looking more like 2016, as that’s when we’ll remortgage and might be able to free up a bit of cash. I put a less ambitious plan of decorating the hall, landing and stairs and the back bedroom and box room in place. Actually, that’s not looking too bad- we did the box room, because that’s where Sid lives.

Haven’t got to the back bedroom yet because it’s full of tat, and the hallway et al is a massive massive job so I think that might wait a while, but in its’ place, we’ve totally gutted and redone the bathroom, and our job over the May bank holiday was to give the kitchen a bit of a gussy up- painting’s all done, we just need to put down the new lino.

So in conclusion, I think all I really need to do this year is paint some goddamn windows, plant a few plants and perhaps clear the crap out of the back bedroom and I will be a happy lady


Baby bedrooms

I wrote this post in February, just two days before Sid’s arrival- On re-reading the first line, I realise how misguided I was! Three months in and we’ve only just managed to finish off his bedroom, hampered partially by the fact that the custom-made blind we ordered took longer than expected and the pictures for the wall got lost in the post, and partially that once we realised that the only time we actually went in that room was to use the changing mat, we realised there really was no rush to get it completed! Anyway, here it is, in all it’s glory, followed by my optimistic original post!

…I really wanted to get the baby’s bedroom finished well in advance of his arrival. The house was just getting more full of baby stuff which I wanted to put away, and I was losing track of what I’d bought!

Back in October, there was a sale at mothercare, and we bought a cot, wardrobe and chest of drawers that we really liked, which was laying redundant in about a million boxes in the back bedroom, waiting to be assembled. We’d also impulse-bought some grey and white spotty wallpaper, which had taken my fancy in B&Q one weekend, but apart from that, nada.

Over Christmas, once the beautiful bathroom was pretty much finished, we finally found the time to get cracking on the bedroom- First step was the boring prep- wallpaper stripping, rubbing down paintwork, you know the like. Unfortunately, this period of time coincided with me slipping down the stairs and spending a good week lying on the sofa with an icepack on my bum, groaning quite a lot, so I was next to useless. It also coincided with us realising that we really wouldn’t be able to find a plasterer to plaster over the grim artexed monstrosity of a ceiling until about April time, so amazing wonderful Mark threw caution to the wind, borrowed some stuff off of our brother in law and got stuck in to do it himself, in spite of EVERYONE telling him that plastering was ridiculously hard, and he’d basically make a crap job of it.

Plastering, indeed, was ridiculously hard- it took him two days to do the ceiling and a foot and a half of the wall, above the picture rail of a tiny 6ft x 8ft room, when it probably would have taken my bro in law a few hours, but a crap job of it he certainly didn’t do- alright, it’s not a seamless professional job, but it’s absolutely brilliant in my eyes and now it’s been painted, I think you could never tell that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing!

Next step after all the boring prep came painting of woodwork and ceiling and putting up of this weird polystyrene lining paper (the box room is really pretty chilly, so we thought a bit of extra insulation would be a good plan). Mark’s mum came in for ‘operation wallpaper’ as she’s a bit of a master. We didn’t realise that after the initial lining paper had gone up, the instructions tell you to wait until it’s fully dried out before you put the normal wallpaper in. Well, we were on a roll, so decided to throw caution to the wind and just whack the top layer over the lining without bothering to wait for it to dry- It’s polystyrene, we reasoned, and stuck on with some industrial strength paste stuff- it’s not going to just fall off again! After a few days of alarming bubbling, I’m pleased to say everything flattened out just fine

The final phase was to hang about waiting for the carpet to be delivered, until which we couldn’t put the furniture up, as once that stuff was up, it wouldn’t fit out of the door again. After managing to order a carpet that wouldn’t be in stock for ‘probably another month’, it finally came in, was fitted and Mark got to it putting up flat pack on his day off, while I was at work.

We’re up to the ‘final fixtures and fittings’ phase now- Everything’s done, and we’ll be putting up the final bits that will make it look more like home- A blue blind (which had to be custom made because of our ridiculous sized windows), robot lamp, some cool retro robot pictures for the wall and a mobile which I made myself, oh and this rather groovy trolley, which I’m using as a ‘handy bits and pieces/changing station’ and I must say I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve done!

My beautiful bathroom

Ever since we moved, one thing about our new house that made me and Mark very sad was our lack of a bath- We both love a bath, but due to an unfortunate/stupid turn of events, the previous owners had decided to put the boiler into the bathroom, so far from being a simple ‘take out the shower and put in the bath’ job, we had to move the boiler, reconfigure the kitchen cupboards and then completely re-do the bathroom, which was no small task.

Still, our February baby deadline kind of put a speed-up on things- We reasoned that while it was an expensive job, it would be a pain in the bum to have a child but only a shower, and a bath would be a much more practical solution, so plumbers, gas people and various other tradespeople were called.

There was a bit of a lapse between the boiler being moved and the bathroom actually being started on (nearly six weeks in fact), so we lived for quite a while with odd, mismatched tiles, and then after taking off most of them, with bare plastered walls while we waited and then in the age-old tradition of these things always taking longer than you expect, we had to flush the toilet with a bucket (the bottom of the toilet got smashed after three days, so having a wee was some kind of balancing act the likes of which my stomach muscles had never seen!) and wash in the kitchen sink for seven whole days- It was quite novel for about 5 minutes, but by mid-week, I’d had enough and went for a sleep-over and a proper shower at my mums!

In an additional age-old tradition, which always sees us doing some form of decorating over the Christmas period, we spent a lot of time doing the finishing touches between Christmas and new year- Painting, glossing wood work, putting up furniture and blinds and finally, finally, the final mirror is in place and I am pleased to say that ‘operation bathroom’ is officially complete, and here are a few snaps for posterity of all it’s purply, slatey, creamy glory- I’m a bit in love!


Here we go round the gooseberry bush

AKA ‘the one where Gemma tries (with varying degrees of success) to grow things

Now, I am meant to be blogging every day in may as part of the BEDM challange. Today’s post prompt is ‘motivation’. Which is oh so ironic, because yesterday I couldn’t even be bothered to blog at all- instead I went for a very windy horse riding lesson, where my trusty steed spooked every time the wind picked up, and then came home and sat on the sofa, while doing sweet bum crack all. So evidently not being the best placed to write about motivational topics, I’ve decided to write about my new goosberry bush instead.

I’m not really sure why I put myself through this- I love the idea of having a kitchen garden, but after last year’s rubbish attempts at vegetable growing (tomatoes- yielded 3, courgettes got dead, rocket… reasonably successful) I decided this year to go in a bit more low key(see- no motivation at all), and not to faff around growing things from seeds, which apparently I suck at. Instead, I’m going for a few pots of herbs, because fresh herbs are mighty expensive, and possibly some rocket, seeing as it worked out quite well last year, even though it just looks like you’re growing a big old pot of weeds- but then I went to the garden centre last week, and found a gooseberry bush. So I bought it. And planted it in a patch of very wormy mud at the end of the garden. I screamed A LOT.

I’m now dreaming of summer when I can make all kinds of gooseberry-related loveliness, like these…

Gooseberry and elderflower fool
Roast duck and gooseberry jam
Gooseberry gin (oh my!)

And loads of other stuff I want to try, but can never find gooseberries in the shop at the relevant moment, due to the fact that they’re not mega popular and have a seemingly very short growing season. Well,  no longer!! So roll on proper summer, when I’m hoping my little plant will have somehow magically produced loads of fruit without me actually doing anything particular!

House plans

I generally have extremely grand plans. Plans that I like to talk about endlessly (sorry Mark) but ultimately that are so bloody big that by the time I get round to executing them, they’ve changed beyond recognition.

Case in point, our house of dreams. I have a plan. My plan has already changed about 18 times in the last year and a half that we’ve lived there but I figured I may as well document the current one- At least it’ll stop me from boring Mark!

December 2012- Decorate master bedroom (master bedroom sounds ridiculously grand, doesn’t it!)
December 2013- Decorate the front room and dining room

Excellent, so that’s a good start then!

Sort out the back garden (partially done- just one more bed to do and then the obvious ‘a garden’s never finished’ jiggery plantery to continue with) and tidy up the front

-Decorate and theme the ‘room at the end of the garden’. At the end of our garden, we have a brick-built ‘garage’- it’s tiled, has heat and lighting and stuff and we are going to be turning it into a pub. And a gym. It currently has a running machine, weights bench, two pots of paint and some assorted tat in it. Gonna take a leeetle bit of vision to sort this out

-Lay a path from the patio to the pub at the end of the garden

-Paint either the back or front windows of the house. We have wooden framed windows. I love them, but part of the deal of wooden windows is that you have to paint them occasionally. They’re also brown/stained, which I hate- They will be white and wonderful! Haven’t decided whether to tackle the front (with the bay windows) or the back (with the french doors) yet. Possibly the back because it’s easier and I am inherently lazy.

This is where it gets a little bit silly- In my ideal world, I’d like to take the opportunity to remortgage in late 2014 when our fixex rate deal runs out and use the extra cash to extend downstairs. I’ve got visions of a big kitchen-diner across the back of the house, to replace our teeny galley kitchen, and using the space in the current kitchen for a utility room, slash downstairs loo, slash walk in pantry. I WANT A WALK IN PANTRY.

In my positive brain, this would be a good time to do it- We’ll be able to get a new mortgage at a lower rate of interest than we currently have, so the additional borrowing won’t actually affect our monthly payments too drastically. But the likelihood is that we’ll decide it’s too big a jump to make and will sit quietly in our small but ample for us kitchen until we manage to save the money up to do ourselves… in about 10 years time

So if we don’t start going down the road of builders and all that jazz, 2015 will more likely be…

-Decorate the hallway, stairs and landing.
Decorate and replace carpets in the back bedroom and the box room
-Paint the outside windows – whatever of the front or back that we didn’t do in 2014.

The 2015 plan will basically dictate the five years after that, so until we get past the remortgaging issue in November time, that’s as far as my wild planning will go.

Planning to be continued….

Losing the will a bit with the January Cure

Ah well, I knew it was going to happen- In fact, I pretty much predicted when I started this January Cure thing that I’d get bored somewhere around the 20th and yep, like clockwork, I’ve done barely a thing this week!

I had all the excellent intentions on Monday to start on what should have been project 7- Flowers, kitchen organising and cleaning and making a meal.

Unfortunately, it was meant to be a project to take place over a weekend, so after junking the flowers (sorry Apartment Therapy, as much as I love flowers, they’re at odds with my austerity drive!), I did make dinner, because well, you have to have dinner (probably not quite what they had in mind- I think it was more meant to be a relaxing process of cooking with a glass of wine in hand, and some kind of candle light and napkins affair for the actual eating- It ended up being me getting in from work late, chopping some veg, chucking things in the oven to get hot, and slumping on the sofa with the plate), and I did start with the kitchen organising.

Being Monday, rather than spending the whole day reorganising the spice cupboard, I decided I was going to have to take a little and often approach, so I cleared out the two junk drawers while my dinner was cooking, and started off a very pleasing organisation system, using plastic takeaway containers, so my junk drawers are now thoroughly organised. The intention was that I would carry on doing a bit every night but I’ve not quite made it yet.

I also intended on working more on the front room decorating, and on sifting through old photos ready for framing, but aside from scraping some paint off of the windows, I’ve not really done that either. In my defence, I did go to Bruges on Wednesday (no dreamy photos, unfortunately- it drizzled, and I did nothing all day except look at conference centres and hotels for an event that I’m going to be organising next year), which meant leaving the house at 5am and not returning until 10pm, so no time for tidying there. Consequently, I’m now mid-way through three projects, and have a lot piling up in front of me. I’m pretty sure this cure was about getting organised, rather than ending up with loads of half-finished stuff, so I’m going to actually plough on like a good girl, because in spite of still feeling that I’m not cut out domestic godessness, I do really like the idea of a finished front room and an organised kitchen!

So, on the bad side- Cures completed- 5. Cures partially completed- 2. Cures still outstanding- 8

Scanning down the list, there’s quite a few bits I can cross off-
8- Organise a get together- Yes. We have a get together in the pipeline- Its for the superbowl. Admittedly, I will likely go to bed and not stay up for the superbowl, because American Football is poo, but there will be boys coming over and they will want feeding, thus I shall count this as my get together. Mark and our man friends do it every year and rotate around each others houses, so this year it’s our turn (his turn).  So cure 8- DONE!

9- Create a landing strip- Weirdly, I read about these last week (I read a lot of random home improvement blogs, because I like living vicariously), and here they are again. A landing strip is basically a stupid name for the place that you put your coat and bag and keys and stuff when you come in the front door. We actually already have a little table with a wire box thing for keys and post, and my handbag lives below that. What I’d really like is some coat hooks and a luggage rack- like something you’d have gotten on a train, so I’m definitely going to seek that out- Functional and fashionable- what more could you need, eh! Cure 9- partially done

10- Try a media fast. I actually really think I could benefit from this- an evening away from the internet. It’s one of my main horrible habits- whiling away time aimlessly surfing the internet, usually while watching TV, and so not really concentrating on either properly. So I’m definitely going to put a day in to do that- ooh, maybe tomorrow night. Cure 10- not quite yet

11- Put some effort into your goal project- Ooh ooh- I’m doing this already! Yay- I think I can tick that off the list- have done loads of stuff to complete our front room decorating project. In fact, I ordered the floor on Tuesday, so that’s going to arrive next week. Yessss. Cure 11- Done

A quick glance at the other cures, and there’s nothing that I can claim to have started on, even by accident, so for now I will sign off with a reasonably successful:

Projects completed- 7
Projects partially completed- 3
Projects to go- 6

Ha- so right back to where I started then- 6 to go!

Busy busy busy- cuuuuure 6… And a bit of 5

Continuing on the apartment therapy January Cure (very surprised im still doing it and havent gotten bored and slacked off!) and Ive started on challenge 6 – preparing artwork for framing. Before we’d even bought our house I had this idea in my head to put loads and loads of photos up the stairs. I actually hung onto this idea until about a week and a half ago when I realised theres not actually a huge amount of wall space going up the stairs, so Ive moved my plans to a huge expanse of wall in the front room that needs something on it!

I have years and years worth of photos- you can tell this is a project Ive had in my mind for an absolute age, so its nice to sort of be forced into action! So today, I started on the first phase, and poked through a load of old photos to start narrowing it down. Its more than a day’s worth of sorting out due to the sheer volume of photos Ive taken over the years, so I’ll be carrying on through the week.

As well as cracking on with cure 6, we also spent a lot of Sunday working on my now designated ‘cure 5’- namely to finish off decorang the front room. Quite a few things ticked off the list- the window frames are painted, mark’s putting the blinds up, and Ive pinned the curtains ready to be taken up. Quite a lot of work still to go, not least that a massive bookcase thats going to go as a kind of divider between the living room and dining room arrived in the week, but as we’ve not got a floor down, we’ve just had to leave the boxes cluttering up the hallway for the time being… But progress is being made and for that im pleased!

Still, im going to be moving on to the other cures, even though Ive not really finished these ones, so cures sort of completed, 6, cures to go 6

January cure part 5 again. Need to read more carefully

So I went back and read the instructions for the last part of the apartment therapy January cure again.  You may remember that I was all pleased for ticking off cleaning my mogey bedroom mirror on Wednesday.  Well, I say clean, I felt like I could tick it off of my list after a brief rub with some white vinegar that didn’t really seem to do anything but at least I’d tried. Sigh.

Anyway, I happened to be reading the cure posts again and realised that the idea wasnt to pick the tiniest job on the list so you could get back to watching tv, it was actually to make a project plan to tick something of the list that will make a real difference.  Oops. Not to be deterred, I’ve made my plan.  The task- not just one thing, is to finish off the front room which in turn will mean the spare bedroom might get back to normal as all the front room stuff will be back where it belongs.

Before Christmas and in the lead up to new year, we made a major start in this room-we painted, put up wallpaper, bought new curtains and installed a new fireplace, finishing just in time to have friends over for new year.  Since then, well, we’ve done nothing- we have bookshelves that can’t be put up until the floor is down, blinds that can’t be put up until the window frames are finished, curtains that are too long, a couple of missing bits of skirting board plus a load of other little projects to finish.

But it’s ok, I have a plan. It’s written in my green ‘organising things’ pad, so it shall be done!

Apartment therapy January cure part 5

Getting a wee bit behind now!  The assignments are up to 10, making me 5 behind.  Agh!

Anyhow, assignment 5 involved picking a task off of ‘the list’. As I wanted to get a cure done today, but also wanted to do my tax return, ring edf, dust the bedrooms and do some ironing, I copped or and went for the simplest task on the list-to clean the mirrored stuff on my dressing table.

Ive a mirror and a tray. The tray is a bit smeary, the mirror is covered with these weird dots. I dust them and feel a bit sad that theyre not clean, so I decided to take the vinegar to both to see if they looked any better. Great success on the tray, it came up a treat, but the mirror still looks a bit spotty.

I can’t think what else to do to clean it, (I had a go with soap and a scourer too but nothing) so I’m taking the cop out excuse of just leaving it be.  I could bin it, but I like that mirror and what are a few strange spots between friends? And after taking a little snap, I realised you can’t even see them anyway which means I’ve basically been bugged by something that nobody else would even notice. In the words of someone sensible, why sweat the small stuff? Why indeed

Apartment therapy cure- challenge 4

Challenge 4 was a pretty easy one- set up an out box.

Basically, just an area of your home- a cupboard or wardrobe is suggested- that you use as a space to put things in when you’re not sure if you want to keep them or junk them, as a way of busting clutter. Things stay in the out box for a week, when you get everything out and decide whether you want to keep, recycle or bin- or if you can’t decide, you just leave it for another week until you’re ready to make a decision.

I’m not particularly cluttery- I do have ‘stuff’- pointless ornaments, picture frames, and general tat that I keep hold of, but I generally keep hold of the stuff because I like it (at least, I think I do- perhaps when I start looking at what I have, I might realise I hate all of it!) but as well as ‘stuff’, I do like to keep practical things as a ‘just in case’ – which is why I have stacks of bed sheets, towels, crockery and that sort of jazz, which I think the out box might help with.

Happily, this is also an easy challenge to complete, as you don’t have to actually put anything in the out box, just decide where you want it! Given the fact that the back bedroom, as previously discussed, is a bit of a stuff magnet at the moment, that will probably be the best bet- I can make a stack at the side of the bed until I get round to moving the furniture around so I can designate a proper area.

Cure progress: 7 challenges posted so far- 4 complete!