I don’t think I’ve ever hugged an oven until now

I never in my life thought I’d get sick of takeaways.
That was until recently when we discovered that living without an oven/proper kitchen meant we could either:

  • Eat out, get fat, and be skint.
  • Order in, get fat, and be skint.
  • Invest in a temporary oven, eat better, be skint.

Being skint seemed inevitable so we decided to invest in an oven – on the cheap. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that me and Joe did try for a short while to make do with what we had (microwave, George Foreman grill, and imagination) but I was personally getting super depressed, tired, moody, and just really really squishy. I missed my vegetables and I really missed cooking.

So, when Joe’s relatives, John and Barbara, called with a second hand oven they were shifting, we were over the moon. I absoutely love it. It may be old, but I’m choosing to think of it as retro. Sure, one day we will replace it when we get around to doing the kitchen properly, but for now, I can eat proper food again; boil veg, stir fry things, eat pasta. I never realised how much I use a hob before now. So I’m going to unpack my cookbooks this week, and get back to the gym to get rid of this takeaway podge.

(Let’s see how long it lasts. Yo Sushi! tonight Joe?)

Karen x

How to eat without a kitchen

They say that you never realise how much you miss something until it’s gone. Well, this is certainly the case within in our house. Today’s example: the kitchen.

Once we had packed up most of our kitchen stuff in the last week of living in the flat, we mostly ate takeaways. After all, it’s only temporary right? Well, after moving into the house – with no fitted kitchen – it was more difficult to eat well than we thought. This is what our kitchen currently consists of for food/cooking:

  • Toaster
  • George Foreman grill
  • Microwave
  • Slow Cooker
  • Fridge/Freezer

So, as you can imagine, for the first week or two in the house, with no cupboards to unpack any kitchen stuff (seriously, when I say kitchen, I merely mean a room that will one day have a kitchen installed) we put off any sort of cooking and continued with our takeaway spree – or “trying out the local cuisine” as we labelled it.

This really made us laugh at our new local Chinese. Do you think they handmade it?

The fact is, after a week of this, I felt rotten. I felt miserable that I couldn’t simply boil some veg and throw it in a pan with some noodles. We’re eating crap so we’re feeling crap. I really really miss the following:

  • Having a hob
  • Having an oven
  • Kitchen sides
  • Cooking in general

We’re hoping to get a second-hand cheap oven soon – to tide us over until we can afford to do the kitchen in a year or two. Here’s a few of my attempts at eating healthy without a kitchen.

Chicken soaked in garlic oil cooked on the George Foreman grill. Basmati rice cooked in the microwave. Sweet peppers soaked in oil and cooked on the grill. Fresh avocado.

Prawns cooked on the George Foreman grill, with microwable noodles and microwable veg. Sprinkled with soy sauce.

A breakfast of champs. Microwaved scrambled eggs. Microwaved tinned beans, and a toasted bagel. And fresh orange.

My next mission is to try out the slow cooker, which was a gift from my Nan. The problem is, I have a  recipe book for this very appliance, but most of the recipes include “browning” ingredients first on the hob, or pre-heating in an oven. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the point?

I’m on the lookout for some slow-cooker recipes where I can just throw some ingredients in and leave it until the end of the day. Please! I can’t bear to have another takeaway – something I never thought I’d say.

Karen x

What a difference a month makes

It took us one whole month from getting the keys to the house, to making it decent enough to live in. Joe took some pictures of the house just before we had the keys, and here are some updated images now that we have got our stuff in, so you can see how much it has come along (and how much we still have to do!) in such a short space of time. Really proud of ourselves, and grateful to the family who have been superstars.

The Lounge

Before

Since then we have…
Stripped and skimmed the walls and then painted them white.
The fire has been removed completely and the floors have been stripped back to the floorboards.

After

The dining table has also been shoved into the lounge for now. As soon as we build a dining room, that's where it will go!

The Kitchen

Before

To be honest, not much has been done in the kitchen. Eventually, we plan to knock through the back wall to extend the size of the room and then build a kitchen. So far, this room has had the boiler installed, and that’s about it! It is mostly being used for storage.

After

Bedroom 1 (the “master” bedroom)

Before

In our bedroom, the horrendous moss green carpet has been removed. The bright pink wallpaper has been stripped off. The gas fire has also been removed. We have skimmed the walls and given it a white coat of paint.

After

Even managed to fit my dresser in there! Plenty of my junk yet to unpack though...

Bedroom 2

Before

This room has been stripped of the horrible wallpaper. Because we couldn’t afford to have another room skimmed just yet, we decided to just paint behind where our wardrobes were going to go, and leave the rest until later. You may have heard me talking about the wardrobes before. They are massive and once they are assembled, we are NEVER moving them.

Poor Peter (Joe's dad) having to assemble them. You're a legend Peter!

The rest of the room is currently being used for "storage"

 Bedroom 3 (The boxroom)

Before

I would have loved to show you what this looks like now, but it is currently home to a computer desk, a spare single bed, and an entire bathroom suite, so it’s pretty stuffed!
We have however, removed the lovely carpets, and all wallpaper.

The bathroom

Before

What used to be this awfully dated pink bathroom suite (rotting, may I add) and a separate WC, we have now ripped out all fittings and tiles, as well as the adjoining wall. We have taken everything back to the brick, added plasterboard to the walls and ceiling (to make a lowered ceiling) and added a toilet. As soon as we can afford taps and tiles, we will fit the rest of the bathroom. Hoorah!

After

We will probably take things a little slower now. We got so much done in the first month simply because we had to. I can’t wait to get all the dirty stuff out of the way and get some flooring in the next few months. It’s going to be a blast.

Karen x

We caved for central heating. Tropical house warming party anyone?

I can’t believe how quickly everything is coming along. The central heating is being installed this week and I am certainly not suprised that a lot of houses in our area haven’t got around to doing it themselves.
1. It’s expensive.
2. It’s bloody messy!
3. If you’re already decorated, you’d have to start over.

Luckily our house is a shell and we bought it for that very reason meaning we could:
1. Add value over the years.
2. Make it exactly how we wanted it. Our dream home if you will.
3. Have a project to work on as a family.

Here’s a few piccies of how the central heating is coming along so far. We’re away for the weekend and should be done when we get back. After using electric wall heaters that smell like burnt toast in the flat for so long, I’m excited for that cosy warm feeling again when it comes to our first Christmas in the house.

Back of lounge

Front of lounge

Pile of radiators ready to go!

The boiler!

Upstairs hall. Not much of a floor at the moment!

Main bedroom

“]”]

Immersion heater in the bathroom has been destroyed woop! Adding extra room

What will one day be the bathroom! The door on the right used to be a separate WC but the wall has now gone and will eventually be a double shower.

Even Instagram can't tart up a skip.

-Karen x

What bank holidays are made of…

I’ve always been aware that bank holidays are big for DIY and getting good deals (HURRY, SALE ENDS MONDAY. GET IT NOW OR DIE A MISERABLE DEATH FROM REGRET).

But I’ve never really been a part of that because I’ve always lived with my parents in a finished house, in student accomodation or in a rented apartment. So the past few years, whenever I hear ‘bank holiday weekend’ I think, “Fab, an extra hangover day at the weekend. Huzzah!”

But not anymore. Welcome to adulthood Karen.
This weekend, my new best friend has become the local B&Q warehouse and I now know that you can never own too many bin bags.

Over Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday Monday me & Joe had lots of helpers around, who we now owe big time, and we got plenty done around the house. I imagine this is what all future bank holidays are likely to consist of. And d’ya know what? I don’t even mind *insert cheesy smile*

Here’s a few snippets of progress.

Chipboard wallpaper. It's everywhere! It HAS to go.

Kitchen tiles came off with a simply kicking...

My sister Amy stripping the lounge wall

Here she is again!

My Aunty Hel (& Uncle Ste, and Cousins Callum & Rhiannon) popped round to help. They were camera shy.

Out comes the gas fire and carpet in the main bedroom

That's better!

Joe's sister Sam and mum Carol giving the box room a good gutting!

Me and my sis clearing up mounds of chipboard wallpaper in the lounge.

Chipboard for the tip, from ONE wall!

My Aunty Maggie giving a helping hand with the steamer.

Amy relaxing after a long hard day.

More of the same next weekend I hope!

-Karen x