Monthly Archives: March 2010

The magic 50

Woo hoo – 50 home improvements completed!

Home Improvement 48: Spare room walls and ceiling painted

Home Imporvement 49: Spare room woodwork all painted

Home Improvement 50: Spare room wardrobe painted

I can take credit for none of it – Dad has been extremely busy with his paint brush. So nice to have 50 completed! That said, there is still a lot left to be done (though when I started the project I wasn’t anticipating doing quite as much work as we’ve ended up tackling). Over the next week we’ll be picking up and laying carpet and doing a lot of clearing – piles of stuff are everywhere again, this time the result of emptying the built-in wardrobe.

Over the last few months we’ve managed to get so much done around the house I can barely believe it when I stop and think about it. I have no idea how people manage to major renovation work while working full time – I couldn’t manage it. The only reason we’ve managed to keep at it is a) we want as much of our time kept as free as possible to spend with the baby and b) because we want to go on the market in a year – thus the DIY must be done now.  Although there is still plenty to get finished it seems like we are on the home stretch. We’ve just got keep our heads down and go at it for another couple of weeks. After which if anyone tries to make me sort through the contents of a drawer or cupboard, make phone calls to arrangements with plumbers/workmen, live with piles of clutter, take things to charity shops/the dump, move things around or do anything remotely related to sorting out/decluttering/DIY there shall be dire consequences

Categories: home improvements | 4 Comments

Out with the old…

We’ve just cleared the spare room (soon to be nursery) of all of the old furniture. Bye bye futon, bureau, bookcase, filing cabinet, hello empty space. I say empty but actually there are still boxes everywhere, not to mention the usual selection of random junk you uncover when you start to clear a room, but it is a big step forward. I’m typing away from the new table in the living room rather than my usual spot at my bureau which seems really quite strange but I’m sure I’ll soon get used to it! Actually, it is quite nice. I can just about glimpse the sea through the trees (how I wish we could say we had an actual sea view) and am watching a squirrel leaping around in a tree. I’ve been back to the carpet shop this morning and think I have chosen a carpet. Provided nothing else crops up I should be able to pick it up next weekend. Strange how some things seem to take a lot of planning where others just seem to happen in the blink of eye. Probably easy to say when everyone else has been doing the heavy lifting!

I also need to take the final measurements before getting a chest of drawers. The rather grandly titled spare room is really more of a box room but there is just about enough room for a cot and a chest of drawers in addition to the built-in wardrobe. We’re going to put some extra shelves up in the wardrobe so we can store bedding, towels and other bulky items – something else that is on the to-do list. I can’t wait to actually get some furniture in there so I can finally put all of the baby things away! There is an ever increasing pile of bags taking over our bedroom. I’m beginning to forget what we’ve actually got so I’m really looking forward to being able to go through them and sort it all out. As for now, I’m either going to go and start sorting through the piles of junk or have a little nap…

Home Improvement 46: Spare room cleared of all old furniture

Home Improvement 47: Dimmer switch replaced in the living room – the wall lights now work!

Categories: home improvements | 3 Comments

In transition

I feel like I’ve been bumbling around from one thing to another over the last week or so, largely due to the fact that I am in a strange ‘inbetween’ place at the moment. On many levels I am in a transitional stage. I’ve had to manage a lot of changes at work while also trying to make arrangements for what happens when I go on maternity leave in less than 7 weeks. What with all of the home improvements there constantly seems to be a project on the go, a loose end that needs to be tied up, a call that needs to be made or something that needs to be arranged so we can keep things moving. My finances have been up in the air for months meaning that I haven’t been able to make plans or work towards goals the way I usually would. I won’t be in any kind of regular ‘routine’ again until some time in June and then I’ll have an all new, vastly reduced budget to deal with. Obviously the biggest change of all is going to be the shift from full time worker to parent – about as major a shake-up of the norm as I can imagine!

Things keep changing so fast I can’t really make a plan for anything – instead I just have to roll with the punches from day to day and week to week. This is all fine really, just an inevitable part of dealing with change. However, I do kind of miss the sense of working towards something specific. Obviously, I am actually working towards a whole host of things and have managed to get quite a lot done in the process yet somehow it seems more like a mish mash of unnconnected tasks. Also, I haven’t been able to pay quite the attention I had in mind to my eating and exercise but there are only so many balls you can juggle at the same time! I’m going to spend the next few days doing a bit of plotting. As of Monday I will have six weeks left at work so I’m aiming to get a plan together covering that time frame when I ought to be able to get a bit of a new routine on the go. Then it will all change again!

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Catching up

I’ve been a bit quiet in blogland over the past week. There’s been a lot going on – lots of changes at work, house still needing to be sorted out properly after moving things around, multiple phone calls and having to chase things up, financial plans and decisions being made. Also, the surgery lost my anti-D injection three times (I am rhesus negative) and I ended up having to go to hospital to get it and then I had a filling replaced with no injection at all (fun). None of these things would probably that stressful by themselves but throw them all together in the space of less than a fortnight, mix in a hefty dose of third trimester sleep disruption and the end result is I have been very tired. So, I’ve had a few days of taking things easy, slowly tidying up, reading, cooking, eating, catching up with friends and trying to get everything back together. Now I could just do with a decent nights sleep though I suspect I won’t be getting one for quite some time! I’d read plenty about feeling tired during the third trimester which was one of the reasons I was so keen to get as much done as I could while I was feeling energetic. In terms of the house there is still a lot to do but we’re past the halfway mark. Speaking of which:

Home Improvement 46: New shower bought and installed!

The house is beginning to seem like it is getting back to normal, in a new and improved sort of way, so I expect we’ll be ready to tackle something else off the list in the next week. I’d like to get as much done as possible over the next month as I suspect the tiredness will go up a gear around then! The effort of the last few months has all been worth it though. In the areas that have been finished everything seems to be calmer, tidier and easier to keep on top of, not to mention how nice it all looks. Seeing how much better one room looks when completed is a great motivator to get on and sort out the next one!

Categories: Baby, home improvements | 2 Comments

Financial round-up: Decisions, decisions

It’s been a distracting and nail biting week but I have had it confirmed that I am actually going to get the money I am owed! Amazing! I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to decide how best to manage it. I started off by thinking about all of the different funds I had previously either been working towards or aspired to starting – car maintenance, home maintenance, the emergency fund, Christmas (I never manage to put back a monthly amount for this), holidays…the list seemed to go on and on. However, I realised that by breaking it down I would have lots of little bits of money in different accounts when I would probably be better off putting the majority of it in an ISA where I could earn more interest and where it would be easier to manage.

I had originally given myself a target of £3000 for an emergency fund with the intention of starting some general savings for the future once that was completed (in additon to starting some of the other ‘funds’ mentioned above). However, this idea really needed to be revisited based on our needs for the coming year. The main things that we might need ’emergency’ funds for would be if something went wrong with one of our cars or something needed to be fixed or replaced at home. We’ve had plenty of experience of these type of expenses over the past few months! We would also like money put aside here for any other bills or expenses that crop up unexpectedly. The most drastic financial emergency would obviously be if one of us lost our income in which case we would just have to take whatever we needed out of our savings – I don’t think we really need a seperate account for this specific problem. For now, the emergency fund needs to be something we can access easily as and when smaller problems than this arise. As I already have £1000 in my emergency fund I am going to leave it at that – it should be more than enough to satisfy these needs.

So what am I going to do with the rest of it? Well, first off I can now put back the funds required to finish the work on the house that we are so very close to finishing. As we own our property (albeit with a mortgage) I see this as a good investment. This left me pondering slightly about what else is really important to me/us. One of the things that my year on Shoestring Alley has shown me is that being able to do things and go on holiday is really important to me – I need that change of scenery and pace from time to time! Thus I have decided to put a small amount aside to start a holiday fund. I very much doubt we’ll be going anywhere this year but I think it is a good idea to start a fund for next year which we can slowly add to as and when we can afford it. Actually, this is a fund I want to keep going in the long term so I am pleased I can make a start on this! Having a special account put aside for this should keep me motivated in topping it up whenever we can.

While the funds are there I’m going to get one or two things that I’ve been putting off buying – a printer being one of the items on the list (ours hasn’t worked for over a year). Other than that, anything left will go into an ISA. I’m going to look into opening a new one with a better rate of interest.

I should receive my money next week so I’ll spring into action then – at least I now have a plan! Knowing the funds are on their way has taken a big weight off my shoulders. Although we’ll still be on a tight budget it is a huge relief to know that we should be able to pay for any problems that crop up while I’m not earning. This should give me a bit of peace of mind during my maternity leave allowing me to concentrate on more important things. All in all, a pretty good start to the weekend!

Categories: Money Management, Saving | 3 Comments

Yet more adventures in DIY

Progress is still being made on the DIY front…the kitchen is just about back to normal with almost everything cleared. The bedroom and landing are still full of random piles of things from the living room that we haven’t decided what to do with but that can be sorted out a bit at a time. I’ve spoken to the plumber and it looks like we might be able to get a new shower fitted before the weekend. This is an annoying expense and wasn’t part of the home improvements plan – we weren’t expecting it to break! However, this needs to be done ASAP as I am getting bigger by the day and am finding it increasingly tricky to wash my hair without a shower. It’s always the small things that drive you mad! I also need to chase up the people who are doing the flooring in the bathroom…the list of things to do goes on…and on…and on

Home Improvement 44: Bathroom ceiling painted

Home Improvement 45: Bathroom radiator painted

Categories: home improvements | 1 Comment

Final break

I am done for the night – the books have beaten me. I’ll have another go tomorrow. Have just had a bath but have been banned from the living room as Husband is putting the table and chairs together. I suspect a ‘ta da’ moment is on the horizon. Am now ready to collapse on the sofa and eat some food…

Categories: home improvements | 2 Comments

Break 4 (and a week without TV)

The kitchen has been abandoned in favour of playing with the bookshelves, or rather my vast collection of books. Despite the fact that I have managed to get a double layer of books on most of the shelves there still isn’t room for them all. I suspect my parents will be getting a phone call begging for a bit of attic space (one of the things I most look forward to about living in a house rather than a flat/maisonette is having an attic). Husband has gone to pick up the flat packed table and chairs we bought the other week and I am making myself take a break. Not easy because I really want to see those bookshelves full and organised…

I’ve always hankered after bookshelves in the living room but, because the old table and chairs were so big, there just wasn’t room. Now there is! See, it’s all worth it in the end. Sad as it may be, I can’t tell you how much I am already enjoying being able to have all of my recipe books in one place and so on. I know I’ll use them all that much more because I can actually see them. I’m just left with the tricky choices between which books to keep out and which ones will have to be packed away until we move.

I’ve just realised that we haven’t watched any TV for about a week. We only have one TV in the house and, since we haven’t been able to use the living room, we haven’t been able to use the TV either as it is wall mounted. Hopefully we’ll be able to curl up on the sofa later and watch the DVD that arrived from LoveFilm. Thankfully I took a beef casserole out of the freezer so we can have something decent to eat without actually cooking anything. Sounds just the ticket. Right. I’m going to have a hot chocolate and then get back on with the task at hand…

Home Improvement 43: Bookcases moved to the living room!

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Break 3

Mo and Make Do Mum have decided we’re in nesting mode! Perhaps this is true. I, however, begin suspect insanity. We keep having wild bursts of activity and then sit jibbering in the corner surrounded by the mess we’ve made. Then decide to plunge straight into something else. It is not rational behaviour. Who wants a tidy, redecorated house anyway? Oh yeah, that’s us…damn it.

Has anyone else noticed the way that, when you decorate one room, it immediately highlights how shabby the one next to it looks by comparison? I was cleaning the tiles in the kitchen thinking ‘Hmmm, they could really do with regrouting…’. I need to be stopped. I am not doing the kitchen as well. Except there are a few splatter marks on the wall. And the grout really is very grubby looking now. And the microwave is twelve years old and looks like someone has been playing football with it. And don’t start me on the woodwork. ARGH!

One thing at a time. One thing. Or maybe three. But that is it. Right, this isn’t getting the kitchen cleaned is it? See what I mean about the jibbering?!

Categories: Decluttering, home improvements | 1 Comment

Break 2

Time goes fast when you’re busy! I’ve been let loose with the hoover (ah, how much better it looks already) and have also cleaned the bathroom and loo (which are seperate). Husband is a man on a mission. Despite staying up doing DIY until 1am, he has been on the go all morning/afternoon. The entrance hall is going to be converted into an area for all of our music stuff which has left us umming and ahhing over what to do with my two bookcases. We’ve decided to try them out in the living room. It isn’t a huge space and I’m slightly concerned they will overwhelm the room. Since there’s only one way to find out for sure, Husband is currently emptying the shelves…I’m really hoping this idea works. I’d love to have my books in an easy to access place…

While he’s busy with that I’m going back to kitchen duty…

Categories: home improvements | 2 Comments

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