Friday, 30 October 2015

House Renovation :: Week Two ::

This week has been much more productive that the first. My sister, her other half and four children arrived on Friday afternoon and got straight to work. Over the weekend we managed to completely strip all the wallpaper from two of the bedrooms, whilst the kids pulled wallpaper off the walls here there and everywhere (the house is currently covered in discarded paper!).


The boys, especially Ian, my sister's boyfriend, spend most of the weekend in the garden. Ian brought down all his gardening tools and mowed the lawns, cut the hedges and gave the whole garden a huge tidy up. You wouldn't believe how much bigger and nicer it looks as a result. Plus he found all manner of treasure, including a little cotswold stone wall hidden under an overgrown hedge.

On Sunday afternoon Johnny took sledgehammer and crowbar to the cotswold stone fireplace that was in the dinning room and made quick work if getting rid of it! We've salvaged as much of the stone as possible and moved all that down to the vegetable patch ready to be put to use up there. We're a bit stumped as to what we're going to do with the fireplace now. We're not sure whether to keep it or board it up and if we do keep it what to put there. We're thinking of a tiled surround as the others in the house are all the original tiled fireplaces. Though I'm wondering if a woodburner might also be a good idea, as the dining room will (eventually) lead through to a big kitchen. However at the moment there's a back boiler in there so I guess we'll have another think once that's been removed.

We had a plumber come round on Saturday to do a quote for us. We need to add central heating throughout the house, remove all the water tanks and fit a new bathroom. We don't have gas yet, but that is going to be fitted the middle of November. Johnny and I are now debating different radiator styles and bathroom suites. Though we have agreed on one thing, the bathroom flooring. After lots of research and hours on pinterest, we've decided on cork flooring. Very 70s I know but it's super cheap, sustainable and much warmer on the feet than tiling. We had some samples arrive from Siesta Cork this week and we love the frost colour way from their Ambiente range.

This week has been half term so the kids and I have been visiting most days to do a little of something. I managed to get another bedroom completely stripped of wallpaper, but other than that it's been a little tricky to get much done.

One thing we did manage to work on was clearing away some of the hundreds of apples all over the garden. With little time to do much with them this year I fear they are mostly finding themselves on the compost heap. But we did put a big box of windfalls out on the pavement, I haven't been back since we put them there so I have no idea if anyone took advantage of them or not. Ian brought us an apple picker which is amazing, so we've been picking lots to add to the fruit bowl. Next year we will do all manner of apple related preserving and baking and storing.

I'm hoping to get most of the rest of the wallpaper stripped this weekend, then we're pretty much done until the tradesmen have been and done their bits, before the mammoth decorating task begins!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Book Review :: Imaginary Fred ::

I have been a huge Oliver Jeffers fan long before I had children of my own to read the books to, so when I was asked to review his latest book, Imaginary Fred, written by Eoin Colfer I jumped at the chance. Since I have had children of my own, Jeffers' books have filled Milo's bookshelves. I have to admit we haven't read any Eoin Colfer yet, though I did read some of the Artemis Fowl series back when I found myself (briefly) working as a school librarian and I suspect these will definitely be a series Milo would love.

Everything about this book is beautiful, the duck egg blue cover with gold embossing is wonderful and as you would expect from Jeffers, the illustrations are just delightful, but it's the story that we really really loved.

Milo was reluctant to read this book at first, but I think that's partly down to him being at that crossover age, somewhere between picture books and chapter books (as he calls them). However once we got started he loved it.
As the title suggests it's the story of an imaginary friend named Fred, who appears to those in need if the conditions are just right, but Fred rarely gets to hang around long, as as soon as the 'real' friend finds themselves another 'real' friend, he disappears and waits up in the clouds until someone else needs him. Until one day he finds a real friend who is everything he wants from a friend, the pair are so close but of course Fred knows only too well that it won't be long until he begins to fade away.

It's a really touching story of friendships and they way that they change and alter and how that can be OK. As someone who had an imaginary friend as a child, I guess this book really appeals to me, Milo too had a brief friendship of the imaginary kind, with Merida an Italian princess who lived in a castle. He also often referred to the 'guys' who were coming round to play or taking him out somewhere. It's been a long time since his imaginary friends faded away, but it was nice to remember them together.

We really love this book and thoroughly recommend, whether you've been lucky enough to have an imaginary friend in your life or not. The book is out now and can be found here.

Harper Collins are currently running a competition in which you can win your very own story of your imaginary friend written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. You can enter over here where you will also find an activity sheet and a poster to accompany the book.

**We were sent a copy of the book to review but all thoughts are completely our own.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sketchbook Club ::

Back at Blogtacular in June, I met the lovely Jennie Maizels, who was telling me all about her sketchbook club. I had already been following the Sketch Book club on Instagram and admiring everyone's fabulous work so I so was so excited about being able to take part online.

I was especially excited when Milo decided he wanted to join in too. We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon together working on our pages for the first theme of the course (houses). It was such a nice way to spend time together, his chat throughout was just joyful. We both finished up so proud of our work. Milo even declared at the end of the day 'I've learnt today that I'm actually quite good at drawing, I thought I was rubbish'.

Jennie provides great inspiration, via videos, printouts and gorgeous examples. You can purchase each module individually for £7 or the whole course for £20. I believe there is also a second course in the works. Details here.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

House Renovation :: Week One ::

I hope to do weekly updates of our house renovation, as it was this update was intended to be published last Friday, when it was written, but pesky half term interrupted!

So one week on from finally buying a house and picking up the keys, here's a little update of how it's been going.
I don't think any of us have really let it sink in that we actually have our very own house, not only that, that it's the gorgeous house we've got. I can't believe how lucky we are and how lucky I am to have a mr who despite his own preferences in houses, chose a house completely the opposite to please me! He even carried me over the threshold on that first day (whilst I carried Effie in the sling!).

Our first weekend as house owners was spent away at a beautiful wedding of very dear friends, so no real work begun until Monday. I headed down with Effie first thing in the morning, whilst she napped in the pushchair I got to work on removing all the upstairs carpets (all except for Milo's as he wanted to do his himself). The first room I worked on was the master bedroom. I was utterly thrilled to discover under the lino, under the carpet, a local newspaper from December 1938, the year the house was built. I couldn't believe it! I don't think those floorboards, or that paper had seen the light of day since then, both were in immaculate condition. I will of course keep the paper and hope to frame it to put up somewhere in the house.

Under the carpet in Effie's room I found a piece of parcel paper, addressed to the previous owner. Unfortunately the stamps had stuck to the carpet on top of them, so I couldn't see a date stamp but my guess is the 50s, judging by the carpet that was laid on top of it. I found lots of other miscellaneous objects too, including a pearl, a mystery key, a receipt for some coal and lots of buttons.

Next up was some wallpaper stripping which revealed what I believe to be the original paint colours. Effie's room also has some lovely little leaf imprints on the wall, I imagine these were left behind by wallpaper long since removed.

On Tuesday an electrician came over to do a quote for the rewiring. The whole house needs a complete rewire, there are currently an assortment of 4 fuse boxes under the stairs all of which look as though they are well passed their best. There are also night storage heaters which need removing as we plan to have central heating fitted and the whole house needs new and extra plug sockets. Something I really really really want to keep however is the original light switches. The electrician originally told me this was impossible as they are timber mounted. I understand this is a hazard but I couldn't help feeling massively disappointed by this. I'm hoping I can find a solution to this problem, though I'm not sure what yet. You can get reproduction replicas of the original bakelite switches, but after looking at those (and their prices!) I realised I would rather have new modern ones if I wasn't able to keep the originals. It's them that I really want.

As half term started on Thursday and we were busy on Wednesday we didn't get anymore work on the house done this first week, but I'm pleased with what I've managed to achieve so far and with my sister and her entire brood arriving today and a full weekend of work ahead of us, I'm feeling very positive.

Monday, 26 October 2015

One Year ::

So it's actually been over a month since miss Effie made that big milestone of one. The last year has been so wonderful, of course it's gone by in a flash and yet feels like a million years all at the same time.

To think that I didn't even know I wanted a second baby, really didn't feel as though I wanted a daughter and couldn't possibly imagine how I could love another as much I love Milo before she came along. 

Effie's first year has been a hundred times easier (for me at least) than Milo's was, though I fear she will make up for it in the future. She is quite feisty, very adamant about what she wants and has a terribly mischievous streak. 

For the most part her and Milo get on very well, he dotes on her and she on him. I love seeing them together. She doesn't have many words yet but 'ilo' has emerged quite loudly this week.

Other words are ::
Tater - water
Daddy - daddy
Minmin/mama - milk

I think that's probably it, notice no mama meaning mama yet (humph!). She signs for food and milk and will give you an enthusiastic head nod for yes, she doesn't shake her head yet but if she doesn't nod she means no! If that doesn't work she'll bat you or it away very forcefully! She also waves and claps and points. I think she may be a bit behind in communication, we're working on it and I'm confident she understands a lot, she just doesn't feel the need to tell us much yet.

She's also behind in terms of weight. She was born quite big but has slid further and further down the weight chart since then. I'm not concerned I think she's just little, but was born big. However the health visitors are so she's having frequent check ups. 

Things she loves include, books (especially the Gruffalo!), cuddly toys, animals, throwing food on the floor and kisses.

I can wait to watch her grow and change and become the person she will be.

Monday, 19 October 2015

A New House ::

So last Friday we bought a house! Finally after years of searching, having offers rejected and all the other ups and downs that come with house purchasing, we finally finally have a house of our own.

You may remember me writing about the house we'd seen that I so so wanted back in July, well somehow all our luck changed and that is exactly the house we bought.

It's a project to say the least, a 1930s semi-detached 3 bedroom, that needs completely renovating. It has almost all of it's original features, including 3 out of 4 of the original fireplaces, all the light switches and doors. It needs some love but it's amazing and all ours.

Expect lots of house related blog posts in the future.