A 2012 pledge

2011 has been mental.
This time last year, me & Joe were talking about one day owning a house and what we would do with it (mostly Joe dreaming about having a Star Wars room and me having my own zoo), but all with a pinch of salt. We didn’t realise that the year ahead would make that pipe dream a reality.

In 2011, our attention was aimed solely towards solicitors, paperwork and money money money. It was a really long and painful process and it has truly been the most stressful thing I’ve ever been through. I know people warn you about it, but jeez louise, what an effort it is buying a house! BUT, it was totally worth it.

Since moving into the house in September, we have done loads of DIY. Seriously, loads. It looks completely different and certainly feels like home more these days. In fact, without a lot of help from our family, and a lot of DIY forums online, we wouldn’t have been able to get so much done.

And Christmas has also given us a helping hand. We were spoiled rotten in all honesty, and apart from a few amazing individual gifts, our joint housey-type gifts were my favourite. It just got me so giddy thinking about making the place more homey – as opposed to the building site it once was.

Here’s a few goodies…

The bed throw that I've wanted for months

A loft ladder! Another project for Joe.

Curtains for the lounge! Woohoo! This back window that they are covering isn't double glazed so can make the room very cold. We're going to get matching ones for the front window in January

This fab photo frame which I've wanted for a while. One thing our house is missing so far is pictures. We don't have a single picture of us/family anywhere in the house. This is going to change.

A vacuum cleaner! It might sound sad but I was so happy to get this at Christmas. Especially since we have carpet in the house now, so we really need it!

Not a bad start to the year eh?

Apart from a few personal things I want to achieve, our resolution this year is to get the house finished by this time next year.
We want all the rooms done to a livable standard. They don’t have to be flash or fully decorated, but if a wall needs plastering or if a floor needs carpet, this is what we want to do. Apart from the kitchen, which is a start-from-scratch job (we’re saving this huge huge job for 2013) we don’t want to be living in dust anymore. Who knows whether we will get there, but I think you get more done when you’ve got a goal in mind.

Joe is tiling the bathroom as we speak which means by Janury we may have a bathroom.

I think I’m going to go and make myself useful. Maybe I’ll vacuum the lounge or something. Because I can!

Have a great NYE everyone. See you in 2012.

Karen x

Getting festive with the neighbours

There’s something about seeing Christmas lights down our road on the drive home from work which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside – perhaps I’m just leaving the heating on too high. But, either way, it makes me happy.

I know that it’s normal to see Christmas trees in the windows of neighbours and the occasional twinkle of lights, but this year, I’ve noticed that there’s plenty more of them around. Perhaps our area has more children and so more bright colours? (Who am I kidding, I’m just a big kid myself anyway!) I don’t know. But I love it. And I’m really glad we moved somewhere fun.

Lots of neighbours have this set-up. Pretty

A few doors down

Okay so maybe SOME of the neighbours have gone a little OTT....

Me & my sister Amy went to the Manchester Christmas Markets this week as well, hoping to get a nice warm drink and maybe even some gifts – and to feel generally festive. We didn’t really buy anything (although we did treat ourselves to a Biscotti Baileys hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. Nom!) but we did get realy giddy what with all the Chrimbo decorations!

Me & Amy next to the huge Santa decorations!

I’m thinking next year, me & Joe should get something fab for the front lawn – which hopefully, by this time next year will be to a better standard. Who knows, we may even have a driveway built by then!

I’m thinking, maybe a reindeer! Or maybe something like this….

Christmas Lights

Hehe. Okay maybe not. To sum up, I love Christmas. I love my house. Merry Christmas everyone 🙂

Karen x

Only up to 5 washes? Rip-off!

If you’ve been to this blog before, you may have heard me rattle on about our bathroom for a while now. Well, in a nutshell, we’re still a far way off it being finished. But, something happened lately that made me chuckle so much, I was almost glad it is only half done.

With Christmas here, and my car bills due, money has been slightly less available than normal. We’re also saving up for the rest of the bathroom gear such as tiles, radiator, etc. With this in mind, we decided to do a little budget shop for cleaning materials.

Joe picked up a bag of discounted goods such as washing up liquid, shampoo, bleach etc – basically, plenty of stuff that we could stick in the cupboard ready for the kitchen/bathroom.
(You may think this is weird to merge these 2 rooms together, but currently our shower is in the kitchen, and we brush our teeth in the kitchen sink. You can only use what you’ve got eh? 🙂 )

There was one little bottle in this bag labelled Travel Wash. This has been on the side of the bath with the shampoo and I thought nothing of it. That is, until  I discovered that Joe was using it to wash with.

That’s right ladies and gents, Joe has accidentally been cleaning himself with washing detergent.

We should have known really, what with the “Up to 5 standard washes” slogan. I blame the fact that I wasn’t wearing my glasses. We both were in fits of laughter when we found out, and now he’s been given a temporary pass to use my nice “girly” bath stuff.
(I get this type of stuff as gifts all the time. I’ve got more of it than I know what to do with. But truth be known, I absolutely hate baths, becase hot water hurts my skin. If anyone wants some nice bath-type stuff, let me know! Think I’m getting off-track here…)

Oh well. It’s a good job we can laugh at this kind of stuff.
Bring on my shower in 2012!

Karen x

Stairway to storage

Joe has been a bit shy in terms of this blog so I thought I’d step in and post some pictures from one of his projects: the loft.
(I’m good like that 🙂 )

As an observer only (I’m still a bit scared to go up there. Think of all the spiders!) I’m sure this won’t be the full story or accurate in terms of DIY stuff. I’m a bit like a child with books when it comes to this kind of stuff: “Does it have pictures?”

Either way, I’m really proud of Joe for taking on this job. It was a real mucky one and with his poor back, it can’t have been pain-free.

Here is the original opening for the loft. There was no door or hatch and it was just an open hole. It was also extremely narrow.
As you can see from this picture, when Joe’s dad, Peter, was viewing the house before we bought it, he tried to get a sneeky peek but it was just too tight!
So (to my knowledge), the first job was to get up there and make a bigger hole if we ever wanted to use it for storage – which we do. Here is Joe peeking out from his new whopper of a loft entrance complete with wooden edges and duct-tape to hold it up. (I love his creativity!)

To get an idea of how much we cut out (I say we, but really I didn’t do anything), here is a picture of my cousin with the old ceiling, plus hole, about to throw it on the fire on bonfire night. (Sorry you got cut off the picture Tom!)

After this, Joe and his dad installed some lighting so they could crack on. The loft was pretty well insulated already so all that was needed so we could store stuff up there (I am a terrible hoarder and need storage space!) was some wood to make into a floor.
As you can see, the current floor/ceiling wasn’t going to cut it…

After adding a new wooden edge to the new hole entrance….

…and some wood for the floor, it’s ready for boxes.

We’re really pleased with the size of the loft. One day we may be able to convert it into an extra room. That’s a long way in the future though. For now, all we need is a proper hatch ladder to get up there, and we’ll be happy.

Great job Joeybean 🙂

Karen x

Taking baby steps towards a bathroom

This weekend something amazing happened…..we had our bath put in.

There’s still plenty to do in this room (fit the sink, buy tiles, buy towel radiator, install shower, y’know, just a few small jobs….) and we probably won’t have the entire bathroom completed until the end of January (that’s the goal!) but I’m trying to appreciate every little victory as it comes. And quite frankly, this bath has spent far too much time in a box in the second bedroom.

Now we can officially start calling it the bathroom. Hooray!

What do you think?

Karen x

Hello Christmas, welcome to our home

There’s nothing quite like putting up a Christmas tree to festive songs. Especially when it’s your first Christmas in your house.

On Saturday, me & Joe whacked on a Christmas playlist and got out the Chrimbo decorations. Here’s a looky looky at what we’ve got up.

The wreath
We haven’t had a wreath before, simply because when we lived in a block of flats, we were scared someone would steal it.

The Santa cookie jar
This will soon be filled with Pepparkaka (cinnamon biscuit). Half of my family is Norwegian and this is a tradition we keep on our Christmas Day (24th Dec). Me & Joe will get them from Ikea this week. This Santa jar is currently living on a surround sound speaker in the lounge.

The Santa countdown
This adorable ornament is on the TV stand. Joe’s parents bought it for us last Christmas. I’ll admit, we sometimes forget to change the number blocks around. Oops.

The Snowman
Living on the windowsill lounge. Hope we get snow this year so I can build a snowman in our garden!

We’ve got multi-coloured lights in the lounge window….
…and blue lights up the staircase.

The garden snowman
This is probably really inappropriate as we don’t have kids, but what the heck, it’s cute and I love it. This is on the front lawn.

The Christmas tree
Each year, I’d love to get one special ornament for the tree that really means something. Two years ago, my Step-dad’s Step-mum gave us this glass angel from Norway.
Last year, Joe’s sister bought us this New York ornament, as her then-boyfriend (now-fiance) took her there to propose in December!
I’m going to try and find another cute special one for this year at the Manchester christmas markets sometime this week.

And here is the final tree. Our colour scheme is blue and purple. As much as we love the red and gold theme that is so often done at this time of year, we always like to do things a little different. And yes, that is Darth Vader as our tree topper.
This is what the house looks from outside at the minute. Too much maybe? We still have some icicle lights that we were thinking of hanging outside our bedroom window. I suppose our electricity bill may be slightly higher this month. Oh well. Merry Christmas everyone 🙂
Karen x

All I want for Christmas is a shower…

For a while now we’ve been living without a full bathroom. Read about how we’ve done this here.

But, after two/three months, we’re making some progress. After tearing down a wall when we moved in, (as always, I say we, but really it was Joe and his helpers) making a separate bathroom and toilet into one room, we were pretty much starting from scratch with this room, going back to brickwork and fully re-designing it.

This past month, we have had plasterboard put on the brickwork and then had the room plastered. We’ve also had a wall put up where the toiler door used to be, and the electrics have been added in the ceilling.

Pictures speak louder than words so here’s some piccies of progress…

This is the last picture of the bathroom I placed on my blog, to give you an idea how it has been lately.

As you can see, the floorboards have taken a beating after we've had so much piping removed/installed. We may need a new supporting floor before we can install anything.

This used to be the single toilet. The window that is there will be home to our shower valves. This area will be the double shower.

Joe's dad, Peter, installing some lights in the lowered ceiling

Joe helping and giggling at me for taking pictures nonstop!

Fully plasterboarded

A new wall has been added where the old toilet door was

And the room is plastered woohoo!

So that’s where we are at the minute!
Our bath and sink is still in the spare bedroom at the moment waiting to get involved with the action.

Our shower enclosure arrived last week.It is so heavy and big it is currently being stored in the kitchen. Not entirely sure how we are going to get it up the staircase to be honest!

The shower base and shower doors on the lounge floor when they arrived. Absolute massive!

Also on our arrivals list has been the sink and bath taps and our actual shower itself. I would take a picture of them from the box but I don’t want to ruin their shine with my grubby hands 🙂
Here’s a sneak preview of what we’ve got though. Can’t wait to see them installed.

For the bath. Also includes a matching tap for the sink.

With a bit of luck, we may be able to have the bath put in this weekend by my uncle. I’m sure whenever we get this room sorted, I’ll be shouting about it for ages. Super excited.

Karen x

Knock knock

This week Joe had a little accident  (oops, I think I phrased that badly).
He locked himself out of the house and unfortunetely our front door has one of the those latches that, once it’s closed, it’s closed (I think it’s called a Rim lock?)

He could either freeze outside in the dark, whilst the water was left running inside (silly man), and wait for me to get home from work three hours later. OR, he could smash one of the glass panels in the door and let himself in.

Reacting to his caveman urges, Joe decided he wanted to batter something, and as you can tell from the below picture,Joe had to break in to our own home (I repeat, silly man).

Please note: this is a completely unfinished room that needs flooring and new walls. Please don’t judge! 🙂

For about one day, it looked like we had an abandoned boarded up house because of that one missing pane, but luckily Joe managed to replace it pretty sharpish.

And although the whole debacle was a bit of a pain in the ass and caused me to worry unnecesarily like the panic monster that I am, (“Quick, Joe, is our contents insurance up to date? What if someone comes with an axe? Do we need to protect the door?”) it was a great opportunity to start shopping around online for external doors. This isn’t a door we want to keep permanently anyway and it was always in mind that one day, we’d update it. In fact, there is only one other house on our road, out of 32,  that has this original door from when they were built in the 1940s. But, times change…plus i think it’s ugly.

Whilst doing research online, I can’t seem to make up my mind whether we should go for a wooden door, a PVC door or a Composite door (decisive as ever!). And to be quite frank, I’ve found the internet pretty useless on this occasion as you are always being sold something.

This is what I have gathered about each so far (but please feel free to correct me if I’m mis-informed!):

Wooden doors

  • A natural insulator
  • Cheap if you go to the right place
  • Looks more traditional
  • Needs maintaining/painting every few years
  • We are in direct sunlight and this could affect the wood

uPVC doors

  • Modern looking
  • Will match the windows
  • Great insulator
  • Reasonably priced
  • Not much flexibility in door colour

Composite doors

  • Really secure and could possibly lower insurance
  • Comes in a range of funky colours
  • Only comes in certain sizes and may not fit our doorframe
  • Very expensive

Plenty to think about I think you’ll agree! It seems that a Composite door would be the ideal chioce, but when i did a quote for a pretty standard door, the price was just not anywhere near what we’re willing to pay…

Just in case you didn’t spot that….
Yup. think we’ll have to pass on the Composite for now.
As you can see from our door below, there is a window next to it, at the bottom of the stairs. A lot of the neighbours have matched the pattern in their window to the one in their PVC doors. It’s something I’d love to do but I’m not sure how to go about it.

(Hello Pebbles! Back again? :))
I think we need to do more research really. After all, the front door to your house is really the first thing you see isn’t it? I want it to be a good’un.

So this is a request for advice! If you have any info about different types of external doors, please comment below and help me out 🙂

Karen x