Sunday 30 November 2014

Conservatory Update - Pictures

As daylight slowly trickled in on Friday morning this is how the new conservatory roof looked.  Two sides had been covered in membrane and battened down.

It's appearing more balanced now, and although low and wide I'm getting used to the new look of this side of the house.  Because of the spare bedroom window we have had to have the roof at this angle.  Our house isn't as tall as it sometimes appears in pictures, inside we have quite low ceilings as would have been the norm for a farm workers cottage in the 1900's when it was built.

The slates we have chosen for this roof are a deep grey, which matches the  kitchen/bathroom extension at the back of the house and the slates on the small open porch at the front, but are slightly different from the slates on the roof of the house itself.  We thought that as you see the lower slates more than the roof from ground level this made much more sense.

By the end of Friday the battening had been done on all three sides and the first few slates were in place.

This is how it looks underneath the roof.  

I was trying to explain to Mum but sometimes it's easier to see it for yourself.

The roof is totally supported by the steel columns, which next week, hopefully, will be clad in dark grey brick.  The conservatory sits comfortably below it's new solid roof, with an overhang large enough to cover the steps that will lead to the doors, the sink we are fitting round the back for washing muddy little dogs in and a bench at the side of the conservatory in the picture above, so after a hard days work we can sit with a coffee, or wine and gaze at the wonderful view you see everyday on the top of the Blog.

Another week ahead of mess and mayhem, but now at last we are starting to see it all coming together.  In a minute I have to go downstairs and help Lovely Hubby mark our where the new lights will be hung inside the finished room ready for the electrician to start putting in the wires for them.  We have decided on two lights hung lowish over the dining table and two wall lights on the solid wall on the left-hand side.

As well as all this going on we have the boiler man back tomorrow to re-attach the oil fired boiler .... yay hot water at last :-)

Sue xx

Saturday 29 November 2014

Meat for Christmas, Money for Christmas

Did you shop yesterday, I didn't!!

The thought of shopping was so far from my mind yesterday, and watching the pictures on the news at teatime last night, it was enough to make me decide that I will NEVER shop on Black Friday.  I understand that some people need a bargain so much that trying to get that television for £250 instead of £400 must seem like a 'must do' type thing, but it's not for me.  The scuffles, fights, injuries and arguments are just not worth it in my opinion.  Anyway it seems like there was no rush for the majority of bargains, a lot of the shops in Llandudno, which we ventured into to get the car checked over for Winter today, were having 'Black Friday Weekends' ..... which made us laugh!!

I did my bargain shopping earlier in the week.  Thanks to Lovely Hubby filling the truck with fuel at Sainsburys last weekend he had a voucher for £3 off a £30 shop and one for double points.  So I decided to shop there this week, and for once struck lucky.  The reduced price section had just bee restocked and I was the only person there.

What I bought -

4 packs of Mackerel Fillets
2 Packs of Steak and Tomato Burgers
2 Packs of Salmon en Croute
1 Smoked Ham Joint
2 Welsh Frying Steaks
2 Pork Loins
1 Beef Roasting Joint
1 Pack of  Organic Pork Sausages

That little lot came to £34.45 and with a few other things that we needed I paid up and was given another voucher at the till for next time,  this time it was £10 off a £70 shop .  My first thought was that I wouldn't use it but I put it into my purse and headed for home.  On the way home I realised that I still had over £30 available in Nectar points so I've made my mind up to shop there again before the date is up on the voucher, get everything we need for Christmas and use the voucher and my Nectar points to pay for it.

All the meat, except the steaks which Lovely Hubby had for his tea last night, has been stashed into the freezer and will be used over the Christmas period.  In fact between that and the chicken and salmon fillets we already had in the freezer I don't think I will have to buy any more meat products until well into the New Year.... unless of course I see a real bargain.

We also have our Sealed Pot to open this weekend, which we decided this year to use for Christmas, so that's us sorted money-wise for the festive season ..... I wonder how much is in it?  I might just take it to the change sorting machine in Sainsburys when I go and tip it in, it's all in small change this year so I'm not expecting anything like the £371.27 that inspired my '365 Days - £365' Challenge of this year.

I'll be back tomorrow we some more conservatory roof pictures, we have some tiles on the roof now, not many ... but some, we're getting there at last  :-)

Sue xx

Thursday 27 November 2014

Keeping Warm

The house is cold, very cold, we couldn't have been without central heating and hot water at a worse time of year really, but we just have to grit our teeth and make do and manage until the jobs are all done.  So I thought for posterity I would do a post about how I am managing. 

The other day the sun came out and stayed out for a few hours, so I quickly got a couple of loads of washing done.  The biggest items, the towels and jeans were draped over the Aga for a while, taking it in turns to be on the rail and on the top lids.  As soon as the worst of the dampness was off them they were relegated to the airer which was set up in the spare bedroom near the window, to catch as many rays as possible.

Things like my jumper which come out just damp were put on hangers and hung from any available handle and knob to bask in the sunshine.

Lovely Hubby's T shirts from the previous day's wash were hung from the curtain rail to catch more heat, and a new knicks and socks that just felt chilled after being on the airer yesterday were laid in sun patches on the bed to warm up.  You can see in this picture a couple of pairs of socks on the radiator airers, these are damp and straight from the washer but as long as I drape them over two rails they dry in about a day and half without making the room feel too damp.  We have these little airers on all the upstairs radiators, and they work a treat when we have the heating on.

It's a real art at the moment getting the washing done and dried.  It's much too damp to hang anything outside, things go out and then come back in a few hours later with no perceptible difference, and with all the sawdust and mess of the building work at the moment I think they would actually come back in dirtier than before they were washed!!

As dusk fell after the day of lovely sunshine, and indeed on all other other days I quickly went into 'heat conservation mode'.  The blinds are all pulled down ....

... and then the curtains are pulled across, in every room of the house.  Doors to all rooms not in use are closed, and then and only then, is the wood burner lit.  I quickly get the living room nice and toasty during the evening, and then towards bedtime the hall door is half opened to allow some of the heat to escape into the bedroom upstairs,  the bathroom door is also half opened to make the bathroom (which is downstairs) tolerable for a shower.  Luckily the shower is run independently of the heating so we still have hot water for this ....phew!!

Hot water for washing pots etc is achieved by boiling the electric kettle, but to help with economies we also have the two Aga kettles sat on the Aga all the time.  Just leaving them their filled to capacity gives us two kettle fulls of water heated for 'free', without allowing any of the Aga's heat to escape by opening the lids.

One kettle full of water fills the two hot water bottles and these are popped into the bed an hour before we are going up, the difference these make is amazing.  No more hopping into bed with sharp intakes of breath :-)

I do a lot of these things all the time, but it seems even more vital at the moment.  Keeping up to date with washing and keeping warm are my main priorities for the next week or so.  The thing I'm most looking forward to having back is hot water, to be able to turn on a tap and have gushing hot water after a couple of seconds and to actually have a bath will be brilliant.

Things are coming on great with the building work and I think almost all the first layer of supporting beams are in place.

The overhang is changing my mind about the appearance of the conservatory, it will deflect bad weather from the building all year round and will also offer us a degree or two of shade in the Summer.

There is one Velux window going in on the side of the conservatory that has no windows to bring in some extra light, and the hole for it is now in place.  I'm a bit concerned that it is smaller than I imagined it was going to be, but as it's been manufactured to order it's too late to have a whinge and a moan about it ..... so for once I'm keeping quiet.

Unusual for me!!

Now I'm off to empty the washer and begin all over again ... but without the sunshine.

Charley is doing well by the way, she's back to the vets this afternoon for her post-op check and another anti-biotic shot, but she's coping well.  And although she overdid it a little bit yesterday, she will be resting with me on the sofa when she gets back from the vets.  I'll be lighting the wood burner a bit earlier and getting us all nice and warm in front of the television with a Christmas movie or two.

Sue xx

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Charley and the Roof

She went from being a sorry little character, warming in front of the fire ...

... to snoozing on the sofa for the evening.

I threw some extra big logs on the wood burner and let them stay in the living room for the night, as she had snuggled in the bed that is currently tucked behind the sofa with big sister Suky at bedtime.  Judging by how stiff Suky was when she got out of bed this morning I don't think they moved at all during the night.  

This morning she is bright eyed and perky ... and has discovered that if you stick your bum in the air and relax your painkilling tablets soon kick in.

She's doing really well now, in a few minutes we are hitting the road and heading for Mum's to spend a day drinking coffee and chatting in a non-building site for a change.  The dogs will be fine in their beds on the back seat of the car for the journey, cosy and warm and much better for them both than the stress and chilliness of all this building work.

It's starting to take shape now and one side has all the beams in place, today they are working on the other side.  I'll leave them to it.

Sue xx

Tuesday 25 November 2014

The Shape of Things To Come

By first light this morning as I walked back towards the house from Chicken World it was possible to see the shape of things to come.  The conservatory roof dark to match the house, an overhang to keep the rain away from the windows and steps .... 

... I could almost imagine it finished.

Then the sun came up properly and it was back to being a building site, with materials lying ready to be used and debris dotted all around, and the tarpaulin that's covering the gaping hole where the poly carbonate roof used to be, moving gently in the early morning breeze.

But it was nice to briefly be able to imagine the finished result.

*** *** ***

Charley went to the vets today, it's time for her to be spayed, I took her in first thing this morning, half an hour after taking the final picture above.  It's good to take them in early, that way they can't grumble too much about not having anything to eat for twelve hours, although she did manage a small breakfast of rabbit droppings as we went round the paddock early on.  She shook from head to tail when we were sat in the waiting room all on our own,  poor little thing I felt like such a bad doggy mummy.  

So I took Suky for a walk in Rhos on Sea to walk away the guilt and wander on the sand.  I cannot imagine what must be going through her little doggy head.  First Rosy and Mavis are left at the kennels, then we come away from the vets without Charley, does she think that she is next .... whatever is going through her little mind she's been sticking like glue to me all day.

You can't beat a walk by the sea early in the morning to banish everything that's wrong in the world for an hour or so.

Now I am waiting for that phone call that says "everything went well, she's fine .... come and pick up your dog, she's ready to go home".  It really does seem like the  l o n g e s t  wait.

Sue xx

Monday 24 November 2014

Roof Off, Wood On, Bottle On

The roof is off the conservatory now and we are open to the elements.  Thank goodness our builder is local, he lives just across the road, and knows vagaries of our valley weather so well.  Every time he says it's going to rain .... it does!!

We were a bit dismayed when he didn't come to take the roof off on Friday of last week, we were expecting him .....  and then a couple of hours into the morning the heavens opened,  and they didn't stop for the rest of the day.  Today the guys have all sprung into action, the final supporting steel is in place and the wood is being attached.  There will be enough wood in place to hold a covering on for the night and then tomorrow the rest of the wooden beams will be installed.

Seemingly we should be 'felted and battened' by Thursday.

But it's making things very cold here in the house.  With no heating and no hot water the only way to get warm is either to stand next to the Aga or huddle up to the wood burner, but I'm trying not to light it too early as all the heat will just escape out of the open house doors and through the cracks in the wood that is protecting the kitchen from the roofless conservatory.  It's laid and ready and later when work for the day is finished I will light it up, close the living room door and keep warm for the evening.

Warming, stodgy foods are called for and once again I reached for the ready made pastry, at just £1 a pack on special offer it was worth buying to stash in the fridge for quick meals.  I think anything tastes good when wrapped in pastry!

These were Spinach, Feta and Carrot, I didn't season them well enough but they served the purpose and a pasty each made for a good warming and filling meal.

I've also decided that hot water bottles are not just for bed time, as I sit here typing in the freezing cold office I have one on my knee, warming me through and giving me something to warm my hands on while I check for spelling mistakes ..... and yes, I've found that cold fingers make more spelling mistakes than warm ones...... or maybe it's my brain that's frozen ;-)

They were the best £1.99 each money I've spent for a long time.

Sue xx

Saturday 22 November 2014

Getting On With Life (Hissy Fit Solutions) ..... and Basil Pesto

Sometimes having a hissy fit is just what you need, every now and then it certainly is for me.  The fact that you lovely lot were there for me with practical encouragement and words of wisdom helped greatly .... THANK YOU,  and today I am just getting on with things which I find is the best hissy fit solution of all.

My other hissy fit solutions are -

Treat Yourself
 Make Something
 Sort Something Out
Take Action
and  Do Something you've been putting off for ages.

So last night it was a tasty tea, and almost a full bottle of wine over the course of the evening ... hic!!
Today it was making the Basil Pesto
I sorted through some more books and things to take to the charity shop next time I'm in town.
I took action and sorted out the dogs for next week to make life a little easier for me and them.  The Jack Russells will be going to the kennels from Monday until Friday so they don't get totally stressed with the conservatory roof being off.  Suky the Pug is laid back enough for it not to bother her and Charley is going to the vets on Tuesday to be spayed so she need s to be at home, but will hopefully be a little subdued after her operation.
And I finally got round to tackling the ironing ... which means I have clothes in the wardrobe I can wear again!!

Hopefully that's things sorted for a while and me back on the straight and narrow, I firmly believe in doing something when necessary and not wallowing for too long!!

*** *** *** *** *** 

Making Something - Basil Pesto

Big Basil the basil plant from the kitchen windowsill was finally past his best, he's been cut right down to soil level on numerous occasions and sprouted right on back, but now he was ready to be used for the final time and give me back some much needed daylight through the window.

All his leaves were pulled off, his stems were thrown to the chickens and the spent compost from the pot was tipped into the compost bin behind Chicken World, ready to be transformed by the magic of warmth and worms back into usable compost once more.

I whizzed up the leaves with an equal amount in weight of nuts, in my case Cashew nuts, I didn't have any Pine nuts which are used in traditional Basil Pesto, I was also lacking o
in the Garlic department, but a good squeeze from my tube of garlic paste did the trick.  I trickled in Olive Oil until it was the right consistency and added some Sea Salt and freshly ground Back Pepper, then I tasted it and wondered why it didn't taste right at all ......

..... DUH!!  

I had forgotten to add an equal weight of Parmesan Style Cheese.

So I did.

Et Voila!!

Cubes of Basil Pesto to pop into the freezer.  Once these were fully frozen they were tipped from the ice cube trays into a lidded plastic box.  Now they are ready for action, I use them to make a simple pasta sauce literally just stirred into hot cooked pasta and then sprinkled with more Parmesan.  Dotted on pizzas or into quiches and pies they add a wonderful fresh taste,  and I add them to anything I want to give a garlicky, herby hit to.

The thing to remember when making it is to simply have pretty equal measures of Basil (or other green leaves), Nuts and Parmesan (or similar) cheese, then add oil to get to your desired consistency and salt and pepper to taste.

Sue xx

Friday 21 November 2014

Garden Room - First Stage .... Having a Hissy Fit

Well the steel supports are in place - almost!!

As usual there are problems, the security light was directly in the way of the upright at the back right, the boiler pipes are touching the metal work and the  builders cut through the oil pipe in the ground.  The work started at 9am and ground to a halt at 1.30pm, seemingly they are back on Monday to take off the conservatory roof .... oh well something to look forward to.

Do I sound p*ssed off .... well I am.  

I hate building work.  I hate decorating.  I hate mess.  I hate mud ... and most of all I hate disruption.  It's no good telling me that it will all be alright in the end, that the end result will be worth all the disruption, the mess, the mud, the work.  It might, but at the moment I am thoroughly hating every minute of every day.  The months of endless planning and faffing about, the whole rigmarole of planning permission, building control, workmen and mess is too much for me.

And to cap it all, at the moment I am not liking the look of it ...... it's too big, it seems out of proportion to the rest of the house and the size of the conservatory.  I'm also sick of being cold, because while the boiler is disconnected there is no heating so the only room that is warm during the day is the kitchen ..... and the worse, worse, worse thing of all this is with no hot water I can't even have a nice hot relaxing bubbly bath to get me in a better mood.

And stamping my feet and having a hissy fit is all I can do about it.

The dismal weather is matching my dismal mood perfectly.

Sue xx


Wednesday 19 November 2014

At Last .....

At last we are off, that is about to have the new roof on the conservatory begun.

We should have been in this position last week, but see that steel beam ... the long one in the picture .... it's over twelve foot long, well it was 'lost' somewhere between the manufacturers and the galvanisers.  I felt sorry for the poor chap that had to phone Lovely Hubby and explain twhat had happened.  I could hear the embarrassment in his voice from where I was sat at the other side of the breakfast bar!!  I know I lose things but a twelve foot steel beam .....

But to give them their due they quickly made another one, sent it off to be galvanised and then yesterday they were all delivered to us.  The builder is coming over to check them out to make sure they are right and then, fingers crossed, work will start on Friday of this week.

And yes, that is sunshine you see in the photograph taken yesterday, we briefly had a lovely day, but they are so short, no sooner had all the chickens over in Chicken World draped themselves in the lovely November sun than it was gone and darkness descended by 4.20pm.

The only thing good about theses short Winter days is the long, cosy Winter nights.  They'll be even cosier once we have some central heating and hot water, I can't wait for that roof to be put in place.

Sue xx

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Dogs in Clothes

Lovely Hubby and Charley have obviously formed a mutual appreciation society all cuddled up and posing for the camera.

We got out the 'doggie dressing up box' on Sunday to see if we had a suitable T shirt for Charley who is booked into the vets for next week to be spayed.  T shirts are so much more comfortable for dogs than having to wear the plastic cone around their necks in my opinion, and as long as she doesn't chew at her stitches she won't be made to wear a one, her little T shirt will do.  It used to be Rosy's so it's a real 'big sisters hand me down' which I love.

Getting in the doggy dressing up mood we thought we would get them to model what the box turned out to contain.

Suky is modelling  her 'spaying' t shirt, it says 'Size Doesn't Matter' which I thought highly appropriate.  It still fits her now because she was spayed at just over a year old when she was fully grown, which the vets we went to at the time seemed to prefer.  I prefer it done before they have their first season, but we went along with what they said.

Mavis in her 'keep me cosy I've hardly any fur' doggy coat, which we bought when we rescued her the first time.  She shivered so uncontrollably with cold whenever we took her on the prom in Llandudno that we went mad and bought her her very own waterproof and cosy jacket.  She got lots of admiring glances on our strolls until she outgrew it.  Now unfortunately it fits her again as she lots lots of condition having her pups and being so mistreated.

Rosy has her 'Cosy Rosy' ..... which is really her Thunder Jacket but she knows what we mean when we say "do you want your cosy rosy".  We get it out during storms or on Bonfire Night, and she waits patiently while we put it on for her before curling up to sleep away the 'danger'..  These felted, Velcro'd jackets are specially designed to help dogs that are nervous during thunder storms, loud bangs etc it makes them feel cuddled and safe while they are wearing it .... and it really works!!

All the dogs except Mavis were then undressed before going out, they don't really like wearing clothes, but Mavis seemed nice and cosy and as we were just about to head for West Shore in Llandudno for a long walk, we thought she would appreciate being warm.

These two really are a pair of cuddly buddies.

*** *** ***

Thank you for all the comments on yesterdays post.  

For now the lamp remains but some of the comments were really thought provoking.  One from Virginia saying 'I admire your decluttering, but there's also beauty and emotional connection to consider, and a table light tick those boxes ... don't they?'  really got me thinking.  NO .... I do not have emotional attachment to anything I own enough to hold onto things, literally everything could be lost in a house fire (except obviously us and the animals)  and after a moments pang of upset I would quite happily start replacing things .... if we felt we needed them again.

Sure there are things like photographs in boxes, cards we have sent each other on special occasions and even the teddy nearest the lamp, who is called Valerie which I have had since my first birthday and who was Simon my son's constant companion for five years, that are irreplaceable in the physical world, but even if they were lost to fire or flood their memory is in my head and always will be.  So I don't feel the need to keep anything if it starts to feel like it is owning me.

I can almost feel that lamp slipping off the chest of drawers ......

Sue xx

Monday 17 November 2014

And the winner is .......

And the winner is .... still helping me to declutter!!  As you will see further down this post ;-)

I decided to do the draw the old-fashioned way, with strips of paper and a hat.  Every time I use the automatic number generator thingys I can't get them to publish on my post and it looks like I've made it all up!!

So after much writing down the names of those of you who entered, checking and double checking I snipped away and folded the slips ..... then I went in search of a 'hat'.  

I couldn't find one upstairs and being in a lazy Monday morning mood decided to make use of whatever I laid my eyes on first in the bedroom.

Now as we don't have a po/potty/gazunder/chamber pot under the bed (aren't you really glad about that one!!) I decided to use one of the wooden bowls on the chest of drawers.  

Looking at the top of the chest of drawers through my new 'declutterers' eyes I thought 'what a mess'.

So I whittled it down a bit and gave it all a good polish in the process.  

But I can't make my mind up about the lamp.  We've had it there since we moved in last Christmas, but it has not been switched on even once.  So the vote is going to you.  Does it look better with the lamp ...

... or without it?

Anyway .... back to business, the little slips were put in the smaller bowl and held up by my left hand to a height where I couldn't see the slips and then my right hand (which is much more unbiased than my left one) was asked to do the draw.  

The winner is .... insert fanfare, or drum roll ... or just scroll down, depending on your Monday morning mood ...

(I chose the fanfare option.)


Who by clicking on her name I found out has her Blog over HERE

So Vivien if you could drop me an email with your full postal address I will set the book of on it's journey to you.  And as Vivien is as big a declutterer as me it might be worth keeping an eye on her Blog because no doubt the book will be travelling on again pretty soon.

Many thanks to all those of you who took the time to leave comments to be entered into the draw and indeed to all those of you who leave comments on any blog post I write.  Your feedback sometimes keeps me on the straight and narrow and always makes this blogging world a delight to be a part of.

So four more items from the top of the chest of drawers to go into my charity shop bag, which means four less items in the house.  I'm making it my mission to take a bag of things into town whenever I go in from now until Christmas.

Happy Monday folks ..... and here's to lots more decluttering.

Sue xx