RIP my little furball – take 3

On Saturday the last of our rats passed away.

We knew it was coming, but we didn’t expect it quite so soon. The other 2 had died in the past two months because they were ill but Luxor was fit as a fiddle. We had read that rats can become depressed when they are left alone so we tried to give her extra attention and keep her occupied by letting her run around the house more freely. But in the end, it just wasn’t enough and couldn’t replace her cuddling up to her sisters.

In the last few weeks, we knew she was a bit less lively but we really didn’t know how bad the death of her sisters has hit her.

With her not being as fast as she used to be, we let her have a run around in the garden which she loved. We had a moment last week where she got so giddy running around my bedroom that she tried to jump into my glass of ice cold water, effectively soaking me and a pile of books, and then had a little bath in it. I couldn’t get mad. It was adorable.

I’m always happy to defend rats as pets and I’ll continue to do so even though I no longer have any. All they want in life is a cuddle and some tasty treats.

Well, they’re all buried next to each other now. We still have Joe’s gecko who is alive and kicking despite being asleep for a good few months! I’d love more pets and I would love love love to get more rats, but because they don’t seem to live that long, I think it would be too painful to get any more. I become too attached. For now, we’re going to donate the cage and the food/bedding for some other ratties to enjoy.

One day, when we’ve got married and finished our work on the house, we will introduce some more furry creatures to the family, but for now I’ll just have the memories of my little furballs. We’ll miss you you nutters.

Karen x

RIP my little furball – take 2

On Saturday, Joe and I said goodbye to our pet rat, Shee-Ra.
She has been suffering for a long time with a tumour under her arm, and more recently, one in her face. It was interesting because, although she had a tumour, she was the most active and playful of all three of our rats. But, the last few days, she got very quiet, and started to lose weight rapidly.

I remember when we got the girls. They were all terrified of us the day we brought them home as they hadn’t been handled before, and they were still very young. They had a little cardboard box in their cage which was given as a bed for them, and they all hid in there for a good hour or so. I sat for about half a day by the cage with some treats on my belly and my arm in the cage door, hoping that they would get used to my smell. We had bets on which one it would be to come out of their box/bed first. It was one of the twins with the dark tail. She suddenly turned hyper and ran furiously around her new cage, and encouraged her sisters to do the same. We named her after He-Man’s twin sister – Shee-Ra.

I don't like crusts on toast, so we would share.

I’m glad she’s not suffering anymore. We’ve buried her next to her sister who only died a few weeks ago. Luxor is the last one standing and she is fit as a fiddle. I just hope that she stays her happy self, as I know that rats can die from depression and loneliness, and she’s always been so used to cuddling up to her twin, Shee-Ra.

You see that tail in the biscuit packet? Yup, that's Shee-Ra.

After Halloween, she would sit in our pumpkin and watch TV with me

I feel that the house is a little bit less like a home with the other two girls gone. I know once our house is fully decorated , we will be less inclined to let animals run around on our nice floors/furniture. But, I’ll always have that hole under the couch where they tried to make a hidey-hole and nearly gave Joe a heart atttack. Funny little furballs.

Karen x

RIP my little furball

I know this doesn’t have a lot to do with my normal posts on this blog, but I truly believe pets complete a family, and a home. And today Joe & I lost our first pet.

I’ve had loads of animals as a kid. When I was born I was given a dog and two cats and they stayed with me up until I was 19. They lived a long and good life.

Two years ago, not long after we first moved in together, we decided we wanted some pet rats. I have wanted rats for years but because we’d had every animal under the sun as a child, my mum had said “If you want any more pets, you should wait until you move out”. So I did.

I know for many this sounds ridiculous, but to clarify, pet rats are a different species than the rats you find as pests in abandoned warehouses and feasting in the city alleyways. Fancy rats are some of the cleanest animals you can own and really, all they want in life is some fresh veggies to nibble on and a good cuddle.

(I’m not trying to convert the world into getting a pet rat. They’re not for everyone. For example, I am scared of rabbits. Not sure why. But they just don’t float my boat. I just don’t like the stereotype that rats are ‘disgusting, filthy animals’)

We spotted a grey dumbo rat in the pet store in April 2010 – about 10 weeks old. (Dumbo rats have larger ears than normal fancy rats. Adorable.) She was absolutely tiny and we knew we wanted her straight away. We told the spotty teenager on shift to box her up; we wanted to make her ours.

He did as he was told and then a few minutes later said: “Do you want both grey ones?” “I thought there was only one?” said Joe. She had already eaten her way out of the box and gone back to play with her sisters. Her cheekiness and love for nibbling boxes/furniture started early. I’ll never forget that. We went on to take home two more, the ones she was playing with.

We named her Jean-Grey. Yes, after the X-Men character. We nicknamed her Jeany.

In the past two months or so, she lost almost all of her weight, and could only walk around in circles. We believe it was a brain tumour (they are really common in rats). She could only eat if we hand fed her, but generally speaking, she was still in good spirits and still loved her spinach, sweetcorn, and cuddles in my dressing gown.

I know that we gave her a great life and we’ll continue to do so with her two sisters. But two years with her just wasn’t long enough.

I’ll miss you Jeany, my gorgeous little furball.

Karen x 

Any excuse to have a house party

One thing I have learned about modernising a house is that there is a lot to get rid of before you can bring in the new shiny goodies. Luckily, when we moved in, the house was empty of furniture so at least we were saved from chucking mouldy couches or curtains. However, we have found that we’ve ended up with a large pile of wood. And with bonfire night arriving just in time, it would be just plain rude not to make a party out of the occasion. And now that we have a large garden, there was no excuse.

So, Joe and I collected all of our wood, and remains from trimming the garden, ready for burning. We bought a special bin for this purpose (and I’ve previously mentioned our family tradition of having a bin-fire) which came with a free mini-BBQ. Double win.

We set up the mini-BBQ, alongside our current mini-BBQ, bought some fireworks, and invited some family.

Joe posing with our spiffing new bonfire chimney bin

Fireworks. Pardon our dated kitchen floor

But first things first, we had to get rid of the Halloween stuff (and yes, if anyone was interested, we had a huge number of kids come to the door. Turns out our neighbourhood is big on Halloween).

But not until the rats had a bloody good play with the pumpkin first…

SO very ladylike

Watching TV with her new favourite toy

As the night got darker, my sister Amy arrived, as well as my mum, Angela, my dad Nick, my cousins, Lee & Tom, and Joe’s parents, Peter & Carol – a lovely little family get together. What was even lovelier as well, is that mine & Joe’s parents haven’t spent much time together before, so it was awesome to have everyone round. Especially since we didn’t bother with an ‘official’ house-warming party due to emergency decorating.

BBQs and fire on the go!

Joe pretending to whizz on the fire

Pebbles popped in before heading back to her owner. Never met a cat who didn't mind fireworks before

One of our many fireworks

Joe's parents brought around a MASSIVE 'firework' but it was a trick that fooled us all - it was just a sparkler haha

Joe likes to play with fire

Everyone! (except Joe who is taking the picture)

Me & Joe trying for the Charlies Angels look with the fire in the background. Successful yes?

Can’t wait for there to be many more in the future. Might even do it all again on New Years? Who’s in? 🙂

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


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.


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


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.


Bedroom 1 (the “master” bedroom)


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.


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

Bedroom 2


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)


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


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!


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

Saying goodbye to renting

Me & Joe have been mega excited about getting the house for pretty much most of this year. After all, we first spotted it in February so it took us longer than average to complete the buying process. Saying that however, we will really miss the flat.

It was our first home together. We both had a birthday there. We had our first Christmas as roomies together there. We had lots of events with friends there. It was a really good first home to us. I remember when we first went to view it in January 2010. It had been chucking it down with snow and we were panicked that our wet shoes would ruin the carpet (at that point, it was a showroom flat).

What I loved about it the most, was that it was plain, modern, and I even liked the fact that it was completely empty, meaning we needed to buy furniture of our own. My absolute favourite thing about the flat was that my little sister lived upstairs meaning I could see her everyday. I will miss that the most, but it gives me a good excuse to come back often and see how the new owners/renters are treating the place.

When we left on Wednesday night, seeing it empty was really odd. I never realised how massive it was.

What was our bedroom. It was HUGE! Might not look like it here, but it was pretty monstrous.

The lounge

We’re still excited about the house more than we ever were about the flat, because we know that we will make it our own and have the freedom to decorate it how we want. We know that we will be investing money rather than throwing it away renting. We know that it will be the house where we start a family, and really make a home for ourselves. But we will always look back at Apartment 40 and think of all-nighters watching Wrestlemania, Fajita Fridays and big butch neighbours that hated us. Byebye flat. You were good to us.

Karen  x

A lesson in moving onwards and upwards

So we are officially out of the flat and into the house today.
(Well, Joe is sorting out the last minute bits and bobs. We’ll have a big clean up of the flat tonight before handing back the keys.)
It was a long process, but this past month since we received the keys has been a real eye-opener. Here’s what I have learned in that time.

How much we take certain things for granted.
For example, a kitchen side. Do you know how hard it is to make a round of coffee/tea without any kitchen surface? It’s an absolute buggar! I am absolutely adding a kitchen to my wishlist.

Cardboard boxes appear to be worth their weight in gold these days.
Amy and I were very close to getting the flat packed up over the weekend, but were about 3 boxes short. A quick trip to Homebase showed us that five cardboard boxes cost £24.99. No thanks! As if moving house isn’t expensive enough…

We did get some boxes from Joe's Auntie Debbie, who works at the hospital. We may have looked like druggies as they were mostly syringe boxes but that was all part of the fun. Also, the rats just loved playing with them. I might keep a few as toys.

Moving house is hard.
I have moved almost 10 times in my short but happy existence, and I can’t remember it ever being this stressful before. Possibly because the house we are moving into isn’t exactly ready to be lived in yet, but I don’t mind that so much. Camping with walls should be an adventure.

I am more of a hoarder than I ever realised.
Not to the extent where I keep old rubbish and rotting food, like those people on the telebox. But I have found so much junk that I can’t believe I have moved from my mum’s house to the flat, and now nearly moved from the flat to the house! For example, I have kept for a long time now, bags of bags. Yes, plastic bags. What a numpty.

There is a paranomal website called TAPS.
After trying to buy bathrooms taps online this week, Google kept sending me to The Atlantic Paranormal Society. They say you learn something new every day…

Family is underrated.
We’ve had an unbelievable amount of help and support from our families. No matter what people say about needing all the money in the world to buy a house, I disagree (although it does help!) If you have a good family, you can do anything. I’m a lucky bunny.

Karen x

The final countdown: Part 4


Today has been a bit overwhelming for me.
Mum, my step-dad Nick, and my sister Amy popped round to the flat early this morning to help move stuff between the flat and the house, but me & Joe weren’t quite as prepared as we thought we were. However, as my mum often says, “You’ve got to be brutal.” I was hoping to be very organised, recycle everything I didn’t want and maybe put a few things on eBay but with so much to do at the house, we’ve neglected the packing.

I’m superduper excited to move into the house properly. A new era and all that jazz. But it will be hard to leave the comforts of the flat. It was mine & Joe’s first home together and we have had some pretty good times there. Plus, it will be hard moving away from my sister Amy, who lives in the same building at the minute. It’ll be hard not seeing her every day.  On a lihgter note, check out the progress we made today…

Joe in our bedroom flat. The wardrobes are going to be difficult to move...

The other half of the flat bedroom. Plenty to still pack...

The bedroom by the end of the day. The bed has been moved so looks like we're just on the mattress for now.

The second bedroom in the flat. The single bed has gone, computer desk has been dismantled and moved, and the room has been taken over by our wardrobe doors. Don't know how we're going to move them...

The second bedroom by the end of the day. Looks bigger now that it's empty!

Amy helping to pack the kitchen.

Back at the house…

Nick helping unload some boxes

Mum sanding the skirting boards in the lounge

Peter (Joe's dad) adding new skirting to where the fireplace left a hole

Sam (Joe's sister) painting the second bedroom in preparation for the monstrous wardrobes

I’d better crack on with packing for more of the same tomorrow…

-Karen x

Bathtime = time to get dirty

After the bathroom wall came down at the weekend, the next fun job was destroying the bath. It was pretty much a holding point for rubble at this point from when we knocked down the bathroom/toilet wall (and don’t worry, we weren’t just destroying a perfectly good bath. We’re not made of money! It was fully corroding and rotting so it was doomed from the start anyway. So there!)

After carrying the rubble in buckets down the stairs to the skip (feeling a bit like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia)  Joe, his dad (Peter) and his cousin (Gary) detached the bath from the wall – which was easier said than done – and then we all got a go on the bath with a sledgehammer.

I’m gutted there’s no video of me having a go because I did a really good job (I swear!) – much better than me trying to kick the fence in anyway. Oh well, it was fun and now we are shopping for a new bathroom suite. Dead grown up!

Peter digging out some bits of bath. Where are your gloves daddio?! Safety first!

Joe all dirty after taking a sledgehammer to the bathroom.


-Karen x

Demolition Man

The other day I had a great pleasure of tearing down the joining wall from our enclosed WC to the main bathroom with my cousin Gary.

Picture time before some serious business

First we had to chisel round the wall to make sure it wasnt attached to the brick out side, which luckily it wasn’t and it was just cemented in place. My dad then gave us the OK to take it down using large hammers, ( my dad felt like Thor)

Nice wallpaper.......NAT

It became very messy and hard to move around after 30 minutes of destruction.

How are we going to move this outside?

After the wall got taken down, we posted the bricks and cement slabs through a little bathroom window to the drive way outsdie ready to be put into the skip.

This is where I pull my back out putting this in the skip!

I was so glad we called the skip hire company that day after several debates with Karen suggesting we’ll takes it to the skip in a few runs in our cars. HA!

And a jobs a gooden after a good few hours cleaning, this will now be our shower enclosure after a few rejigs and the wooden toilet pan suspender is taken out.

Now time to rest with a kit kat and a drink with dad (left) Gary (cousin, right)

– Joe