Monday, 15 October 2012

Autumn Decorations and a wee update on the House..........


Its been almost two months since we moved into the new house and it has been....... an experience so far. The previous owners, were nice but odd. They were also into DIY. Bad DIY. A lot of what we have been doing so far is more like just re-doing. Its frustrating because there is just so much to do, but everything we start uncovers another DIY horror! And there is almost no-where pretty to rest your eyes either.
 We keep saying to ourselves that as long as we do something everyday, however small, we are moving forward and eventually we will get there. Our last house was a little cottage, we were there for 5 years and made it perfect- this house feels enormous and we will have to live with things we dont like for years until we have the money to change them.I want everything done 'yesterday' so that will be a big challenge for me!
We also have big things to pay for before we can decorate and really make the house into our home. That is hard for me too......It is so much harder to part with money for boring things like guttering and cement than it is for antique quilts and lamps!!!........but gotta be done.  
So far we have been focussing on the outside whilst we have had the weather- cutting back the weeds and clearing the garden of most of the debris ( a smashed up old greenhouse, endless piles of rubble, earth, sand and general rubbish) We have put up a nice post and rail fence across the front and will plant a beech hedge along it to replace it one day when it grows. We are almost finished putting up guttering which is the first this house has ever seen and today we made a start on the living room- ripping out walls and the wierd fireplace which will be replaced with a proper woodburning stove. Ideally, we would like this done for Christmas  (I am in for a dissapointment methinks). There is a classic example of the bad DIY.....above the existing fireplace was a very big mirror, we thought it was nice of them to leave it but in trying to take it down, we realised it has literally been superglued to the wall and a wooden frame stuck over the top. We have had to cut out a 5 by 5 foot hole in the plasterboard to get rid of it.........
I have been working tonnes of overtime and we sold quite a lot of bits a bobs on ebay and gumtree to raise the money needed to pay someone to render the extensions and get the roof put on the entrance porch; work begins on that next week hopefully.That should be the house wind and water tight then for the winter, which here in Aberdeenshire has pretty much started already.
We are enjoying it though, me especially- Euans a Firefighter so his job is action packed but mine is a lot of sitting at a desk for long hours and I am loving getting stuck in and my hands dirty.  

I would love to decorate for Autumn, its my favourite season but there is so much mess in the house right now, there is almost no point!!
Have to be next year.....

And in the mean time, there is always Pumpkin and Butternut Squash soup to keep me feeling festive and autumnal...................yummy!

Does anyone know a good recipe for Pumpkin Pie?? I have a pumpkin pie scented candle and its making the whole house smell amazing and cosy but I have no idea how to make a real pumpkin pie..............xxxx

Here are a few snaps of the Dad took these photos when he was up visiting so excuse the VERY cheesy one of me and Euan taken just before I left for work.As you can see its not a terribly pretty house......Yet... but it has tonnes of potential. I will post some more of the interior soon.

This is the back of the house looking towards the front; you can see the entrance porch which is missing its roof. You can also see the building materials that are piled up everywhere! 

This is the front and other side of the house with the majority of the garden to this side

The lovely patio area which has double doors from the of my favourite features of the house!

This is the pond which we had a long think about and have decided to fill in. Mostly because the previous owners hadnt bothere to line it so the outside tap had to be continously on to keep it full which is totally impractical and probably illegal as its a waste of treated water. 
We feel awful about the wildlife, we have been taking all the frogs and newts we can catch to the pond in the woods. The water has been slowly emptying and we will probably leave it till the spring till we fill it in
As for the shed in the has been lined.... floor, walls and ceiling in..... fake fur. God only knows what went on in there but we call it the 'porn shed'. Like I said, the previous owners were very odd.

Hope you are all keeping cosy....its getting cold out there!!! xxx

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A New Adventure.....

Hi girls, sorry I have been AWOL for a wee while........we have been busy buying a new home!

Its the property of our dreams, the house we will have our family in one day; a lovely farmhouse with over a 1/2 acre garden and a big barn. Its in a perfect peaceful location, up a half mile private road shared only with a steading conversion and a cottage.

Euan and I are so excited, its the kind of house we have dreamed of buying and never thought we could afford. We got it for a great price because its needs rather a lot of work...its been renovated and extended in places and some of it is very rough and unfinished .....part of it dosent even have a roof!! But we are young, dum and we just fell in love with it. We werent actually looking to move but I always nosy on the property websites and I saw it one night shift. Its not far from where we live so I drove up the driveway on my way home at stupid o clock and I just knew it was the house for us......I went home and woke up a sleeping Euan.

Getting the house was a serious drama .....we viewed it three times and had a really good relationship with the sellers, we had a lot in common with them, and they pretty much verbally agreed to sell to us.
It went to sealed bids at a closing date (as is the custom in Scotland) and we didnt get it. We were heartbroken. I was really cross because I felt that we had been led on by the sellers but Euan kept telling me that he had this feeling that it wasnt over yet.

The sellers then showed up at our house the next day ( its only 2 miles away) and said that they felt awful because they really wanted us to have the house and if we could change our offer (although ours was actually the highest, it was subject to a few conditions for mortgage purposes which they didnt feel they could fulfil) they would pull out of the other deal.

After frantic phonecalls to our broker and instructing another survey (I called in sick to meet the surveyor at the house to bat my eyelashes), we managed to sort something out with a lender and so the sellers tried to get out of the other deal. They couldnt.
Thier only option was to make the completion date only a few days after accepting that offer in the hope that they winning party couldnt fulfil........that was a tense week I can tell you, but luckily, the other party didnt even get back to them in time ( very strange) so legally- they could then accept our offer.I did feel guily about the other party but it turned out that they hadnt even viewed the house before offering at the closing date and they showed up at the house that night claiming to be unaware of any deadline for completion!

Getting a mortgage is a total nightmare. After the drama of securing the house, although we had an offer in principle from a lender, we then had to secure a formal mortgage offer. Our original lender backed out given the condition of the house, our back-up lender offered us less money than we needed. They scrutanise every little thing on your bank statments.....and they even took into account our student loans. That must be a new thing, I dont remember being asked about them when we bought our last house and they dont appear on your credit profile. We also only had a fortnight to complete the sale because the sellers were moving to Orkney and we were terrified that they would go to another party who were cash buyers if we didnt hurry up and sign the paperwork!!! But we got there in the end.

It has been without question, the most stressful 6 weeks of our lives. I dont think I have ever said the words "I need a drink" so much before.We had the house.... we didnt have it... we had the house.... we didnt have it.....we had a mortgage...we didnt.....we had a mortgage...we didnt.....up and down like a yoyo!!

Of course, now the reality of situation has hit us and we are walking around the house writing down a list of all the work that needs doing 50% excited and 50% terrifed!! We have next to no money left but the house is totally liveable, we can just close the doors to the parts that are scary.
Its less than 2 miles away from our current house so we are moving car load at a time this week and then we have hired a van for next weekend.....I will post some pictures once things have settled down a bit.

I hope you are well, I have been keeping up with everyones blogs from work but the work computers block me from soon as we get tinternet at the new house, I will be back!! xxxx

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Home Sweet Home

I love looking at other bloggers homes, getting ideas for my own. I think its a bit like flicking through free home interior magazines! Thats actually how I discvered blogging- doing image searches on things like 'country houses' and 'cottage interiors' when bored on a night shift at work.When I clicked on pictures I liked - I was taken to peoples 'blogs'; a concept I had never heard of before.
I loved that I was invited to see pictures of thier houses, use thier recipes and copy thier craft ideas!!
So I would like to share some pictures of our home.
Its a 3 bed mid-terraced weavers cottage built in 1840. When we bought it, it was quite modern inside; all the character had been taken out. Its taken 5 years to get it the way we want, putting some charm back into it. We saved a lot of money by doing virtually everything ourselves from building stud walls, plumbing, moving radiators to hanging doors and everything in between; its been a massive learning experience for both of us. Euans handiwork is everywhere in the house; in the kitchen especially which he built himself from scratch. I make all the soft furnishings and love nothing more than pottering about rearranging things!! Its been exciting, infuriating and exhausting at times but its also been a lot of fun.

The Kitchen.

 There are some more pictures of the kitchen and how Euan made it here Our Kitchen

The Living Room.

The living room has been changed around a lot! Our tastes...wait, who am I kidding? like poor Euan gets much of a say.... MY tastes have really changed over the last 5 years -more than once! I think they are simpler now and more grown up. I painted the walls a gold colour when we first moved in and it was really bright and colourful with a lot of colourful accessories. The walls have been green as well. For a while the living room and hallway were one large room but when the winter came and the dogs began trapsing through snow all over the carpet from outside- we realised that taking out the hallway was a silly thing to do and we put the stud-wall back up. This time we put double doors in the centre of the room which works so well and the room feels much more spacious than before.

My lovely re-worked armoire and one of my antique mannequins stands in the corner.

We built the fireplace about a year after we moved in. There was a chimney but it had been capped at the top, plasterboarded over and an ugly electric fire attached to the wall. We had to pour in a concrete hearth to take the weight of the cast iron stove and all the brickwork. We bought the Oak beam online and the Woodburning Stove was second hand. It was a while before we could afford to get it professionally installed-the only work we have paid for in the entire renovation. Up until then we just lit candles in it! Its so cosy in the winter; all the cats and dogs love to get warm beside it.

There are some more pictures of the living room here Living Room

The Guest Bedroom. 

Thats Tabitha on the bed.

I love old pine trunks- this one came from my parents shop. In Scotland we call them Kists. There are quilts everywhere in our house and the teddy bears on top of them were my Mums when she was a little girl.

I made these curtains from an old quilt. I cut it in half, hemmed the edges and sewed some curtain tape to the top. It has made lovely thick curtains which keep the drafts out in the winter and the sun light shines through them in places where the old quilt was worn through.

The Outside

Its quite a cute little cottage. It will be hard to leave one day but its not really large enough to be our forever home. These photos were taken a few weeks ago so theres a lot more colour in the garden now but its chucking it down today so I dont want to get wet taking pictures.That hardly ever happens in Scotland ;)
You can Mollys head poking out of the catflap.... She used to just jump through it to get outside when she was a puppy. And this is looking up the garden from the door ....

Euan built the brick BBQ and this is where our chickens live......We now have 4. I think my very first post was about them and thier little house. A garden shovel stylishly keeps thier wee door open....keep meaning to do something about that.....its on the list.


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Best Buddies......

Maggie is our little old cat, she was 12 when we adopted her, we named her after Dame Maggie Smith-another distinguished old girl. In the 18 months we have had her, her eyesight has gotten lots worse. She is almost totally blind now and keeps bumping into things, its really sad. She is however, one of the happiest cats you could ever meet and I think thats down to having two very dear friends-Molly and Isla who love her and look after her.xx

Friday, 15 June 2012

An Armoire for my Quilts....

I have been looking for a small armoire or wardrobe to display my antique durham quilts in for some time. I finally found one a wee while ago on Ebay for £80 that was close enough to go pick up. Euan and I tweaked it of course.I forgot to take a photo of it before we started but this one is basically the same. Ours had 3 different sized panels in the door and the bottom drawer is not curved like this one.

I know its the fashion at the moment to paint furniture but I also love the look of old farmhouse pine. I think it comes from being around my parents stock as I was growing up and helping out in thier architectural salvage and furniture was all old pitch pine they dipped and stripped...I think its the smell and the soft feel of it after its been bri-waxed. So some of you will probably recoil in horror and think it looked better painted but not me!!! I can always paint it again one day if I change my mind................

We stripped the paint off, sanded it then gave it a coat of Bri-wax. Euan removed the panel inserts in the door, filled the gaps left in the frame and we attached some chicken wire to the back of the door. He made 3 shelves for me to put my quilts on, attached some drawer knobs to the bottom drawer and put some bun feet on the bottom. I am really pleased with it and I think it looks lovely in our living room. There is also still a bit more room in it for one or two more quilts as well.....I always keep an eye out for them.

Molly also loves it. She has a thing for armoires.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Scraps of fabric.............

I had a few days leave from work last week so I have been having a clearout of some of the fabrics which fill every drawer and cupboard in my little house!!
I sold some on Ebay, sent some to my Mum but I had some pieces that were just too nice to part with and too small to make anything substantial with so I got out my sewing machine and set to work.
I wanted to make some padded lavender hearts which I have seen a lot of lately in magazines and I always thought they looked easy to make but I discovered that they can be quite tricky!

Here are one or two things I learned by trial and error-
  • Dont cut out 2 heart shapes and then try to sew them together- draw round a cardboard template on the wrong side of your fabric and just sew around the template (leaving a gap for pulling through.)
  • Its worthwhile going really slowly around the curves so retain a nice shape when your pull the heart through.
  • Cut slits towards the seam at the curves and especially at the top centre point-otherwise it wont sit right and will appear puckered.
I made quite a few hearts using scraps and some old buttons and filled them with stuffing and dried lavender from my garden - I put them in a wooden dough bowl to make the spare room look and smell pretty for guests.

I also made Isla and Molly new beds sewing larger scraps of fabric together in a patchwork to make a giant pillow case with poppers at one end. I bought cheap Single Duvets from Matalan, folded them in half and then half again to make a doggie bed sized cushion.
I put a few stitches using sturdy thread randomly through the folded duvets to ensure they keep thier shape and then put them into the giant pillow cases!! They turned out really well and I can take the covers off to wash them whenever they get dirty.

We took the dogs to the beach at Lunan Bay to celebrate Isla healing from her Operation.
I grew up on a farm near Lunan Bay, we used to walk our dogs there almost every day and my sister and I used to ride our horses on the beach there too. I still love going there but I always have a little pang of sadness - my parents had sell up after 20 years here during the recession a few years ago and moved back to England.

Its a beautiful beach and we had it totally to ourselves- the dogs went crazy!

(Spot Isla bounding down the dunes!!)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Jeanne D'Arc Living and Isla

I have recently discovered Jeanne d'Arc living, a Danish lifestyle magazine which is full of beautiful inspiration. All the pictures are of delightfully shabby rooms things. I think its another style thats lovely to look at but probably really tricky to maintain.......I mean, you get one bright coloured cushion or you leave a mug out that doesnt 'go' and the whole thing is thrown....nobody wants to live under that type of pressure do they?!!!
But beautiful pictures to have in a book on your coffee table.I love the antique dressmakers dummies, the angel wings and the lovely old shoes....I like having old treasures out on display.

All photos by Jeanne d'Arc Living.

In other news, wee Isla was spayed last week and had to wear the traditional plastic lampshade collar.....making her and my life suitably awkward. Poor girl, she looked so uncomfortable in it, she hardly moved her head at all, it was like she was looking up all the time. It was so huge, it reminded me of the Jetsons spaceship....

After a day of her bashing into everything, including me, and knocking over her water a hundred times, I decided to try and make her a 'comfy collar'. I cut a large ring out of some upholstery foam and pulled one leg of a pair of tights(hose) over it to keep it neat and to allow me to secure it with a knot.

It works quite well, she cant get at her stitches and she is much happier. She is such a sweet girl, she jumps up beside me on the sofa and puts her head and front paws in my lap asking for a cuddle when she is a bit sore. We have always called her Isla Bear because we think she has a Polar Bears face.

With Euan still away, I cant leave her home alone to take Molly out for a walk so we can only go for short ones with Isla on the lead so poor Molly is getting rather short changed on her walks this week...........she bears it tolerably well!!! xxx