Jan 2014: 24days in!

So the month is nearly over and this means one thing: L’s birthday! I’d have preferred it if, all those years ago (I’m not allowed to say how many :-P) she wasn’t in such a hurry to come out and had waited until March, it would’ve let me at least be organised and saved enough after Christmas. However, her being all angsty and liking to be everywhere early, she arrived on the 31 January, thus dooming us poor people who’ve just managed to think of awesome things for Christmas to scrabble around trying to think of something else awesome a mere few weeks afterwards.

The month hasn’t really flown by, which isn’t a good thing; but I have noticed that the nights are slowly getting lighter (hurrah) and instead of driving to work in the dark and home again in the dark, I do at least see a little bit of light when I leave at 4pm now. Phew.

I’ve also taken up running again. I did manage to get to run for 30mins last year as part of my couch-to-5k training, but changed gyms and never really felt the love for running again. I still don’t. I’ve taken up my sister’s suggestion of a mile a day. That probably doesn’t sound a lot to most people, and it isn’t, to be fair; but to try and run, consistently, for that length of time when you haven’t run for a while is quite a task. It takes about 15 minutes because I do 2K rather than a mile, but I was seeing my running times getting shorter after just the first week. Still, it keeps me moving and makes me feel like I’m doing something, and it’s only 15mins of my day. The worst 15 mins of my day, but there you go.

Project House is also starting to take back over. I need to get my rear in gear and finish off changing the sockets in the spare room which was decorated before Christmas. Oh, and I need to do a post on the house, generally, with photos and wotnot, because even after three months in the house, it has changed quite a bit already. Mostly to do with our furniture and organisation, oh and cleaning – the cleaning, of course…! I’ll sort some pictures out soon enough. Everyone loves a bit of gawking at other people’s houses, right?

We knew that there was a house of girls next door – varying ages from 12/13 downwards, and this week (thanks to the lighter nights) C finally got outside and met one of the girls. She and her sister live with her mum and stepdad, and their stepsisters; so immediately her and C had a common ground in that their parents are divorced. What surprised us further was when C told her that she lived with mum and her girlfriend, but her dad and his new wife lived in the country. C asked if she thought that her mum having a girlfriend was ‘weird’ (I think we need to tackle this question: kids will automatically answer “yeah, that’s very weird, you’re not normal”), but the girl replied and said that her dad is living with/married to a man. Well well well. If it is true (further digging needed, need to invite mum in for a coffee…), then it means that C isn’t the only child locally whose parents have split and one has jumped the fence. Obviously, in this situation, C lives with the same sex family, whereas the girl doesn’t. Still, it’s as normal for them as it is for us.

This year is also going to be my year of trying to make as much from scratch as possible. I’m starting with hummus or however you spell it; as my sis has given me a nice recipe for testing at home that doesn’t need tahini. I can’t find it without spending a pretty fortune on it, so I’m advised that toasted sesame oil can work well in its place. We’ll see. I’m also aiming to have a crack at nice flavoured breads, and I’d love to try and get breadsticks right… I’ve never been very good at baking bread; and I think this is my year to try and improve on that. I should really embrace my love of cooking, although in a kitchen you hate and what doesn’t work for you (no storage, not enough worktop space and the worst lighting I can think of), it isn’t easy. Project Kitchen will soon be underway as Project House continues…

I’ll get around at some point to blogging on proper topics. Well, maybe. Isn’t the point of a blog just to ramble away at no one? I seem to be doing very well at that for now!

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Girly Wit

For Christmas, I was given a desk calendar. I quite like them, tearing off a page each day, coupled with a satisfaction that the awful months are flying, but so are the better ones.

This calendar is inventively titled “women’s wit”:
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I therefore expected a mirthy, laugh-out-loud affair, providing me with a chuckle or few. Not too much to ask, I’m sure you’ll agree!

If the first two days are anything to go by, I’m going to be sorely disappointed this year:
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Yawwwwwwn…

I have, therefore, appropriately retitled the calendar:
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This is the year of the blog

I don’t use my blog enough, it could be said. I’ve therefore decided that 2014 should be the year of the blog. I’ve blogged on and off for over 14 years now (yes, really!), but I drift in and out of it, such is my attention’s ability to waiver.

I’d like to blog more, be it recording the transformation of the dirtfest that the house was, to pointless moo hinge about things that annoy me, but I’m lacking topic ideas. So, feel free to suggest all manner of random topics, and I’ll undertake your challenge to blog about it….

Upped, shifted, done!

What a manic three weeks it has been! Our new house is lovely. Our new house is WARM. It’s fantastic, as the flat was so cold at times, to be comfortable when the temperature drops. The biggest win of all? Our new house is QUIET. There’s no one thumping around above us at weekends. There’s no one vacuuming at 8am on the stairs between our bedrooms. There are no more squeaky doors. Silence is indeed, golden.

We’ve just about finished unpacking, but it has taken us longer than we expected because the place was filthy. Utterly, utterly filthy. So much so, I spent an hour on the first night bleaching and cleaning, OCD Cleaners (if those in the UK have seen the Channel 4 show you’ll know what I’m on about) style. I ripped a toilet seat out within minutes of lifting it.

That was just the start…

We have had no phone or Internet for three weeks either, due to the previous family leaving a broadband line active in the house. Still, the time offline has meant that we started decorating, yes, already! The bright green room with the dart holes in the walls. Oh, and the ceiling. Who lets their kids throw darts at the wall, ffs? Anyway, we’ve sanded back the filler they tried to put in (& done a better job ourselves), and have under coated the walls in white. The ceiling has been painted, and L has been glossing the woodwork (I’m crap at that). We took up the thin, cheap vinyl flooring (who puts vinyl in a bedroom?), ripped up the beading around it which was glued down (idiots, it left a total mess), and a new carpet is coming on Wednesday. This will be our guest room.

If I listed everything we have done to date, you’d be exhausted reading it, I am from just thinking about it! However things are coming together slowly and we are loving being here. 🙂

C has settled immensely well and loves her new room and playroom. I don’t think she realises – and won’t until the spring time – just how fab being here actually will be. We are yet to introduce her to the four girls living next door………!

Now we are preparing for Christmas in our new home, and hopefully in the new year we will welcome guests from the south too 🙂

My life is a snow globe

We have been picked up, shaken about, the contents of our flat have been thrown in the air and now they’re settling down, slowly, and falling into place in our house. We are a snowglobe this week.

The move went well. When I say well, it was the easiest and most stress free move I think I’ve ever done. We were ready at 9, the men and van turned up at 10.30 (half an hour early) and by 11.30 we had one fully packed van. They were absolute machines – lifting and shifting our stuff with the greatest of ease. They even apologised to us because they’d packed the van and we hadn’t got our keys (we were waiting for the various mortgage monies to move about) because we would be paying them to do nothing. The day was one of perfect timing, because not 10minutes after that, we got a call from our solicitor to say “it’s ready – you can go and get your keys!”.

We got into the house, I did my usual strop about not being able to turn the boiler on (and then found the switch……….. *rolls eyes*) and broke the boiler dial (just a bit of plastic, thankfully – it’s not affected it), but I got it working. The house is an OVEN compared to L’s old flat (which had what looked like 1m thick concrete walls). It’s so warm! I love it.

Over the last 5 days we’ve woken up every day in our home, exclaiming “it’s home!” and at various points of the day doing that little ‘squee’ moment when things sink in a bit more. It feels like our home, and we’ve both been amazed at how fast it did feel like that. We have more space than we thought we’d need, and it’s starting to show – one room is becoming the ‘dumping ground’ of the place, full of packaging, cardboard and moving boxes. As tidy people, we’re getting irritated by the mess!

Talking of mess, the house was in a bit of a state when we got in. The kitchen remains filthy, and despite L’s mum cleaning it all afternoon on moving day, the layers of grease are unbelievable. We left L’s flat immaculate – last Wednesday I was on my hands and knees cleaning out the inside of the fridge freezer. This lot, however… well, they left the hob with the twisty controls which wouldn’t move due to grease. A thick, sticky layer of grease under the knob. Yuck. The oven needs a professional clean (and will get one), and I daren’t put my fingers underneath the edges of the worktops just yet… oh, and how about a square toilet seat that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since it was installed, having been used by two teenage boys….? I ripped it out hours after moving in (rendering our bathroom toilet useless at the moment until the replacement arrives), as I wasn’t having any of us sitting on that disgusting thing.

Plus, they were a family of bodgers that lived here. Why spend money on something that you could bodge? Strange switches turning sockets off that shouldn’t, lightswitches upside down, the original 1990s bathroom fittings which were supplied with the house when it was new… you name it, they didn’t replace it or decided to bodge it. Why put in a new kitchen when you can just change the cupboard door fronts? Oh, but don’t think about the dishwasher opening, and spend your time bending the handle on the adjoining cupboard door so that the dishwasher can open properly. Honestly… and talking of the kitchen, who puts half depth shelves into cupboards? Bodgers, that’s who! We only have half the space in the cupboards as a result.

We’ve inherited some of their things too – anyone want a water feature? A pond sprinkler pump thing? A garden table? We have them all. Gumtree will become my friend 😀

The nicest, most satisfying thing (apart from a toilet each…) so far? The silence. I never thought I’d live in a detached house, but moving to one from a flat is absolutely heavenly, to be honest. Having had that nightmare of a guy above us thumping about, I can’t say how fantastic it is not to have your sleep disturbed by someone thudding around and vacuuming at 8am on a Saturday morning………

We bought it knowing we’d need to do the work. That’s one of the reasons we could afford the place (plus a strict savings spreadsheet and willpower…), and we’re not shy about doing the work – in the longer term. The short term is for the organising and making the house work for us as well as us working in the house.  It’s taken us a bit longer than we thought (I’ve had to take an extra day off on Friday to complete a few jobs!), and it’s proving frustrating, but the work that it needs is purely cosmetic and it will be fun when we come to do it. New paint, new carpets and all the lovely furnishings that make a house a home… this is a bit of a slow burner as far as projects go, and we can see that it’ll take time – but we have forever. It’ll be a long, long time before we move again, that we do know…

I might even manage some pictures in a protected post once we have internet access again (currently not due until December… thanks, Sky)

Moving on up

Well, here we are. Tomorrow is moving day.

I sit, surrounded by 50+ boxes (when did we get so much stuff?), washing machine dismantled, oven turned off, satellite TV disconnected. We have broadband and some lights, and that’s it. Even the curtains have been taken down, so anyone wandering by thinks I have had a huge Dell delivery.

There are piles of boxes EVERYWHERE! I hate boxes.

I’ve done this moving thing so many times now I should be an old hand at it, but the vast amount of stuff that we keep never fails to astound me. Where did it all come from?

I’m not so worried this time about where it’s all going to go; we are upsizing, as the cool kids say, and gain more space than we really need. However it means that we can entertain, and we can host my family, something I am really looking forward to doing.

So as we prepare to take a step forward into life part 2 for the both of us,I am excited. I won’t rest until it’s done and the keys are in my hand and my bed is ready to fall into, but by this time tomorrow L and I will be in our home. Our home, earned by our hard work and even harder savings.

Here we go…….

Ticking Along

Our moving date is getting closer. If you’re not on one of the new-fangled mobile-like things, and you’re not reading this as a subscriber on your email, you’ll see my lovely little countdown calendar to the right. 27 days as I write. Twenty-seven!

The flat is in chaos. Mild chaos, mind, but chaos nonetheless.

We started to pack this week. Within a few hours, there were boxes everywhere, mess everywhere and our bedroom looked like a bomb had exploded in a cardboard factory. Needless to say, L didn’t sleep very well that night, for the clutter and mess was just too much for her. We tidied the next day, sharpish. The thing is, we’re both itching to pack it all up and get it all away ASAP, but given that we have 3 main living areas, and all are used constantly, and no room in the kitchen to store any boxes… we’re forced to pack slowly and lightly. Furniture has been moved to accommodate the growing pile of boxes. I’ve seen more of the tip this week than I’ve seen in two years, nearly. They’ll start charging us when they see our car approaching.

I do find packing very cathartic, however: there’s a lot of opportunity to rid the place of all the junk that’s lying around – we seem to have a penchant for keeping cardboard boxes and Tetrapack cartons; because they can’t be recycled by the council collections so we save them up and take them to the tip. We’ve dismantled old furniture and chucked it, we’ve unearthed all sorts of rubbish in cupboards. Why do we collect so much stuff, and what good comes of it?

Now we are starting to plan for the house: we need *so* much furniture! We did a wander around the Scandinavian Godliness that is IKEA to get ideas for the lesser-used rooms of the house. I said I wouldn’t furnish my house from IKEA but it cannot be denied that it can furnish rooms very cheaply indeed. The child’s bedroom needs storage to hide all of her rubbish, and that girl is fast demonstrating that she is the ultimate Queen of Clutter. Definitely not her mother’s daughter in that sense.

We also need a fridge freezer; nothing too expensive as we plan to do our kitchen up at some point in the next few years; so if anyone can recommend or warn us off of theirs, please comment below and tell us what make/model it is. I thought they were all the same; there are so many sites that tell me not!