Category Archives: Random woffle

The last post

calendarToday is the due date for the birth of our little’un. There’s absolutely no sign of her being ready for her grand appearance but it seems like a fitting day to close this blog.

So, why close? Essentially, because the house is done! Woohoo! Of course, there will always be ongoing improvements/updates but the major renovation is complete.

I never started this blog with any intention other than to share our journey. It’s taken slightly different directions at times (sometimes the writing has been cathartic) and has certainly been more successful than I would ever have expected.

When I look at the blog stats (which is rare) I’m amazed by the thousands of monthly visitors but also how and why they found the blog – it’s mostly around specific paint colours, colour schemes, Edwardian properties or practical things like varnishing a waxed table or restoring a fireplace.

So I love the fact that, in some small way, I’ve given something back to the online community having relied on it so heavily during our renovations. Too worthy? Yeah, maybe. But for this reason I’ll be leaving the site live, so people can continue to find it – but I won’t be updating.

pandaOur lives are about to change immeasurably – well, they have already been changing over the last 9months and our priorities have quickly shifted.

Despite the best support from the best husband in the world, I can’t pretend pregnancy has been easy. It’s been physically very challenging as I’ve been a bit unlucky with the hand Mother Nature dealt me but I’ve tried my best to just crack on with it and remember there’s always somebody worse off.

Emotionally however has been a different story, I’ve been dealing with things that have broken my spirit. But, that’s not for here.

The positives are that it’s refocused our thinking around what’s important. Our daughter will grow up cocooned in our love, protected from anything that may be going on around her. All our efforts will be focused here.

I therefore have no intention of becoming a mummy blogger (it’s been suggested plenty of times!). It’s by no means a criticism of those that do, I admire them greatly and will no doubt be scouring their blogs for advice, but it’s not for me.

Friends gave us this lovely print for Christmas:

family poster

Apologies for the poor quality photo – I’ve also blurred our surname – but you get the general idea.

I adore the fact that Humph has been included in our new family unit (though he’s a touch on the skinny side!) But this picture is what we will be concentrating on, and only this. There’s no place for a blog in here!

So, it’s the end of 1910housetohome. Thank you to everyone who has read, lurked, commented, provided advice, inspiration and encouragement. I hope you’ve enjoyed our journey.

Ultimately, this blog was – as the title suggests – about turning ‘just’ a house into a home. Some time in the next couple of weeks when our baby is carried across the threshold, that’s when we’ve really achieved our goal.

meThanks for reading, may the future be kind to you.

Over and out,

Jude x

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Blog hop

Do you remember chain letters? Back in the day before email when you had to keep the chain going or bad luck would find you? I hated them and always binned them and I do the same with similarly stupid emails, Facebook posts etc etc You make your own luck in life after all.

But, I got a sort of chain letter blog hop type thing a couple of weeks ago from the lovely Christine over at Little house on the corner. Christine is a great blogger, full of practical ideas, advice and incredible inspiration. Not the type to forward any old junk chain mail – nope, this is a different sort of chain where you get to maybe discover blogs you may not have found otherwise.

So, for the first time ever, I have accepted this ‘chain’ and am now expected to share some current photos of my home and then answer these 4 questions:

  1. What am I working on?
  2. How does my work differ from those in my genre?
  3. Why do I write/create what I do?
  4. How does your writing creative process work?

So, first off, here’s some photos of how it’s all looking right now – all available in more detail in the ‘After’ section if you’re that way inclined.

Farrow and Ball Downpipe and Railings

Kitchen diner

Disco loo gallery wall with Dulux Proud Peacock

Gallery wall in the Disco Loo

Edwardian Farrow and ball pigeon blue gray off white pointing

Sitting room

Farrow Ball Pigeon cast iron fireplace blue gray

Fireplace

Elephant's Breath bedroom Dimity Slipper Satin

Spare room

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue bedroom

Master bedroom

Lamp room gray Pavillion Gray and Cornforth White

Music room/study

Matthew Williamson sunbird wallpaper and Farrow and Ball Pelt

Utility room

A year or so ago I would never have though this set of pics would have been possible. But yep, that’s my home. I live here! We still find ourselves contemplating that fact when we stop to look around – we did this, it’s ours. Every single last bad bit of brushwork or wonky line – all ours.

So, onto the questions:

What am I working on?

Right now, I’m concentrating on perfectly baking my daughter…..I’ve had a bun in the oven for the past 26 weeks! Honestly, it’s been a pretty tough ride so far – I’ve had to put up with quite a few health problems but after years of longing would honestly put up with anything at all! Emotionally also, it’s been supremely difficult and I miss the love, wisdom, comfort and support of my beloved mum more than anything in the world.

Our Big News also means that, inevitably, we’re working on the nursery. It’s been painted and is awaiting carpet, then furniture and then decorative touches. I wish everything you needed for a baby wasn’t so damn expensive because it means we can’t have everything we’d like(!), but we’re certainly planning to make it special.

P1020900We also had the main family bathroom left to do and had planned to do it in the next couple of years. But now, realising we’ll be using it every day for our little’un we’re pressing ahead with that too.

I’ll share a couple of pics when it’s done but don’t have high design expectations, we’re keeping it strictly cheap and cheerful – not the grown-up, indulgent spa feel I had originally planned on. Seriously folks, we pretty much ran out of cash a while ago!

How does my work differ from those in my genre?

Ha! I don’t even deserve to be put on a par with others in the DIY/design/renovation genre!!

a) I am a RUBBISH blogger. I’m not at all regular or reliable…..I received this nomination 2 weeks ago and have only just got round to it…sorry Christine! I still have things to post about that we completed in the house over 6 months ago. Rubbish.

b) We don’t have a clue what we’re doing, it’s all entirely trial and error, we never take on any DIY above the absolute basics. I don’t know any interior design ‘rules’ and just go with my gut and what we like. I don’t even know how to make my blog look any prettier or have a better structure and, honestly, can’t be arsed!! It works doesn’t it?!

c) I’m not good at being a part of the blogging community. I’ve (virtually) met some lovely lovely people but I’m no good at growing my followerers, watching my hit counter or seeking opportunities. I suppose that brings us nicely onto the next question…

Why do I write/create what I do?

The only reason we started this blog was to keep family up to date with our home improvements and, honestly, I don’t think they even read it! We have friends dotted all over the country, and the world, too so it was also a great way to be able to share with them without totally clogging up our Facebook feeds.

And we also wanted some kind of diary of the process – something to look back on and be proud of when we see just how crazy we were but how far we’ve come.

miss worldAnd finally, this is a bit ‘Miss World’ but…I wanted to give something back. We made nearly all our decisions aided by Google, looking at other people’s pictures, ideas and – mainly – paint choices. So, it’s the one thing I try to be really good at – tagging photos – so people who are umming and ahhing over Hague Blue or Pigeon or Elephant’s Breath can easily find our images and, hopefully, help inform their opinion. I have, more recently, been accused by a dear friend of  peddling “house porn”, which amuses me greatly.

How does your writing creative process work?

If you know anything about me by now you’ll know…it doesn’t. I have no plan, no method, no structure. I just woffle a bit, whack it up and hope for the best!

I guess the one thing I have been surprised about is how much I have found myself writing about my mum and, in a strange way, it’s kept her a part of all this. Growing up, she fought so hard to keep a roof over our heads and keep us fed that such grandeur for me now would have been unimaginable. She would have thought we were crazy for taking it on but would have encouraged us every step of the way. So yeah, I suppose that, through this blog, she’s somehow managed to be a massive influence. And, man, she’d have found that funny….pushing up daisies and yet still muscling in!!

As for practicalities of writing, it’s usually when Oly is on the phone to his parents, ironing his shirts (no, I’m not THAT good a wife to do it for him), or wallowing in the bath. Whenever I can grab the time really. And there is usually this little bundle beside me:

Our beloved beast

Our beloved beast

Thanks again to Christine for the nomination for this post – if you haven’t checked out Christine and Jan’s blog before it’s certainly worth it. Their DIY projects are ambitious (seriously, knocking down walls type crazy stuff) and all shared in perfect detail. They’re also incredibly generous with sharing printables if you fancy a go at some crafty things yourself.

And in turn, I nominate Karen from Well I Guess This Is Growing Up.  Like Christine and myself she’s another Northern blogger! Karen is very honest about successes, failures, costs and quandaries as well as talking you through her thought process. She’s also what I would class as a ‘proper’ blogger – a well designed blog, regular posts, a variety of content, good pics etc. And I have a special soft spot for her…she’s about to become a mum too!!

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Go slow

go-slowOk, I’ll admit it. I am a totally rubbish blogger.

My brain has been on such a major go-slow that the thought of writing anything even slightly worth reading has been unimaginable.

However, I promise to get back on it. You’ve heard that before, right?! No, really, this time I really promise. There’s still so much to show you – particularly room reveals. If I leave it much longer we’ll be decorating again.

I have a whole list of things to blog about; a list I keep looking at and promptly closing again.

However, the World Cup is coming and Oly’s brother now lives just 2 minutes down the road. Therefore, as  a Football Widow, I’m gonna have some time on my hands!

So, stick with me just a wee while longer?

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Mexico, househunting and a little shower….

Yes, I know, I promised that when we got back I’d be sharing actual pictures of the house and what we’ve achieved. What can I say, I’m a terrible tease!! But, honestly, since we landed a couple of weeks ago we’ve been really busy and also slightly distracted by house-buying; more on that later.

P1030817

Tulum

Mexico,thanks for asking, was absolutely everything we needed it to be. Whilst the poor UK was drowning (literally, in horrendous flooding) we were luxuriating in the glorious Riviera Maya.

Here’s the highlights:

Critter spotting – our resort was set in an ‘eco jungle’ so was alive with critters which we absolutely loved. Every day there was something new to spot or say “hello” to (or “goodnight” as it happened…..every evening on the walk back to our room I insisted on roll calling all the critters we’d seen that day and saying “night” to them. I’d blame the cocktails but the truth is, I’d have done it sober too.)

Not a single mosquito bite – yep, that’s definitely a highlight. I am normally absolutely bitten to shreds despite the strongest tropical repellent. Not this time! Thanks, we think, to the eco balance of the resort and the aforementioned abundance of critters (iguanas and spiders galore) who were no doubt guzzling up the evil mozzies.

Snorkelling with turtles – next to our resort was a small fishing village called Akumal, meaning ‘place of the turtle’ in Mayan because they feed on the sea grass here. We just hired (mandatory) life vests and waded into the water from the beach; within minutes we saw a huge turtle. In just an hour in the water we were joined by 5 turtles and a couple of absolutely huge stingrays. Loved it. Oly did not love the resulting sunburn as much…but guess who advised him to wear a tshirt under his life jacket? This is what happens when I’m not listened to.

Ouch!

Ouch!

Not getting stung by a lionfish – there was great snorkelling right off our resort beach too. One day we spent ages getting incredibly close to a ‘really pretty fish’. I loved watching it, spent ages right by it, getting closer and closer until Oly got bored. We google imaged it later to find out it’s kind of venemous and you shouldn’t really hang around  with it. Ooops.

See how pretty he is? An easy mistake, no?!

See how pretty he is? An easy mistake, no?!

Coba – we’ve done Chichen Itza before and so this time went to the Mayan city of Coba, which was incredible. In a couple of weeks you’ll be no longer able to climb the ruins of the grand pyramid so we’re lucky we made it in time. I say lucky….to be honest, I can see why they’re closing it, it’s pretty unsafe now. I hadn’t realised how absolutely incredibly petrified I am of falling until I had to get back down (my fear stems back to a nasty fall down a fire escape as a 5year old). So, yes, I was the ladylike tourist who bumped my way back down to safety on my ass……

Tulum – not far at all from our resort so we just hopped on a bus and enjoyed the incredible views. Seriously, postcard perfection. And back at the resort in time for lunch and a siesta in the sun, what’s not to like?!

Tulum ruins

Tulum ruins

CocoBongo – that’s a nightclub/show type thing. Check it out. I have never ever seen anything quite so amazing or crazy and we absolutely loved every minute of it. We considered going back a few nights later it was that good. Darling Husband losing our room key at 5am didn’t even dampen it – nor did the stonking hangovers.

Hiring a jeep in Cozumel – a quick ferry ride and we had a day with our own (knackered!) jeep exploring the island. We beat all the cruise tour parties and just did our own thing. There was an embarrassing incident outside Starbucks (yes, we feel the shame, but I so wanted a frappuccino) when Oly couldn’t get the handbrake off. But a friendly local soon came to our rescue.

Oly loved the jeep

Poser

Doing nothing – damn, that was good. We did get out and about quite a bit but the rest of the time we just mooched, ate, lay in the sun, drank, played in the waves, listened to audio books (best thing when sun bathing!) and generally relaxed. We even squeezed in a trip to the spa and sat in the jacuzzi watching the sun go down discussing the year that was and how much we’d achieved.

And.....relax......

And…..relax……

Lizards – a little known fact is that I have a total fascination for lizards (much to Oly’s mum’s disgust – she’s not so keen!). Mexico is a total haven for iguanas and geckos and our resort in particular had tons of them – still very wild so not keen to get too close to humans. I tried, believe me. So, meeting this fella in Cozumel made me especially happy.

We mirrored expressions

We mirrored expressions

So, pretty much – that was Mexico.

We came home to very exciting house buying news. No, we’re not selling ours before you all start putting offers in; not sure we’ll ever sell this house now.

The exciting news was about Oly’s brother who has recently been trying to buy  his first house where he currently lives in Birmingham. His job is now changing which means he is going to be covering the North of the UK now, so he took the only sensible decision – to move to Leeds. Yay!!

Almost as soon as he told us we were on Right Move checking out what he could get. We were privileged that he wanted us to help him with the hunt and we’ve really enjoyed it. A couple of weeks and a  few viewings later (such fun!!) and he’s had an offer accepted on an amazing terrace about 2 minutes walk  from us!

Oly is absolutely over the moon at the thought of it and I’m pretty damn chuffed too; he’s such a lovely guy we’re looking forward to seeing much more of him. But it does help explain my lack of  recent blog progress.

Once again, I promise to get taking photos and showing you what we’ve actually done with the rest of the house. So, stay tuned. Yeah, yeah, I know – you’ve heard that before……….

Ahem!

Ahem!

Oh, I almost forgot about Him. He had a lovely holiday in a luxury cattery whilst we were away, you’d think he would’ve been grateful……….

Oly went to pick him up and on the drive home (about 20mins) suspected he may have had a little accident in the car (Humph, not Ol).

On putting his cage down in the hallway and lifting off the lid Oly said, “I think he may have weed himself”, just as Humph dramatically leapt from his cage and little poos went flying about 10 feet all over our lovely new 100% wool carpet. Quite literally a shit shower. Or a dirty protest.

Thankfully we own a carpet cleaner but it wasn’t quite what I wanted to be doing after a night flight. So he is currently referred to as The Little Shitbag who is capable of concealing a dozen poos in his little fluffy trousers until it is time to unleash them. He’s still damn cute though.

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Adiós amigos!

Well, we’re escaping this miserable weather and are off to sunny Mexico for a couple of weeks. Woohoo!!

Humph really helped with my packing

Humph really helped with my packing

We’ve felt a bit guilty about this holiday – on and off. Should we have not saved our annual leave and worked less like dogs and missed out on less things last year? Should we really be spending our money on a holiday when we have a boiler and central heating debt to clear and rooms still to renovate? Hell yes, we should! Life is too short for not spending quality time with the one you love. Especially in all-inclusive loveliness.

And, above all, we’ve earned this!! We literally didn’t stop for months; by Christmas we were gibbering wrecks.

When I fished out our mini folder that we always use for travel documents I discovered that even that had plaster skank on it!

Nothing escaped the plasterer.

Nothing escaped the plasterer.

It reminded me just how far we’ve come. How much filth we had lived through and how right we were to have saved up for a holiday. The thought of it kept us sane!

So, I shall have a Mojito for all of you and really do promise to share pics of the rest of our house when we return. Adios amigos!

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Love is stronger than death

In my last post I showed you our gallery wall, but there was one wall I hadn’t shown you. This one:

IMG_3608

This is on the opposite side of the disco loo and has just three frames, which kind of didn’t go with the rest. All of them are on the sentimental side. Indulge me…….

The first is a card I gave mum for Mothers’ Day in 2009. I found it in her bedside drawer when I had the hideous task of cleaning out the house after she had finally given up the fight against her poor broken body. It was a card in which I had written about how we were both coming to terms with the fact she wouldn’t be with me on my wedding day. I described how, in her absence, I was going to walk myself down the aisle, knowing she was with me every single step. I described how no-one else could take her place.

A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no-one else can take

The second card – that I found in her desk drawer – was one Oly and I spotted in a bookshop in the Lower East Side, NYC, 2010. Whilst we were away she got pneumonia. The card just jumped out at me as what I wanted to know that she knew. She effectively kicked me out when I was 19 – I had delayed going to uni for  a year and then got an unconditional offer for Leeds. She told me if I didn’t go and live my own life then she would kick me out anyway, she would be ok and so would I. So, the hardest thing I have ever done – or will ever do – was to leave my caring role behind and go and find me. No matter what I was doing or where I was, I don’t think I stopped worrying since 1996.

You are in my mind, inbetween red lights and meetings, inbetween sips of coffee, inbetween ringing phones

The final card was the last birthday card she gave me. If you hadn’t yet worked it out – keep up! – I bloody adored my mum; she was incredible. She had the most amazing tenacity, abundant kindness, ridiculous sense of humour and greatest resilience for the constant shit life had thrown at her. She adored Oly – loved him like a son – and he loved her back. She valiantly fought illness for 26 years and we were as close as a mother and daughter could ever be.

This is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart, I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart

When Oly and I were framing these cards we discussed whether they made us sad and we both agreed it was the total opposite.

They remind us of the importance of love and the strength of words, they make us smile.

Mum is buried in a peaceful memorial woodland and, under her growing oak tree is a stone that includes the words: “Dearly loved, and confident that love is stronger than death.”

And, ok, ok, you’re wondering if this indulgent sentimentality really has a place in our disco loo. It has. She’d have died laughing.

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Happy new year!

Hope everyone had wonderful festive seasons and you’re full of hope and inspiration for a new year? This quote – by the unmistakable Tennyson – perfectly summed up the usual New Year expectations for me:

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’.”

So, for us, 2013 left with a whimper and 2014 entered the same –  thanks to dreaded lurgy that induced chronic asthma and even an (almost unheard of) day off work. Meh. Still, it has at least made us slow down and consider the year ahead – in house terms anyway.

As you know from our last hurried pre-Xmas post we completed what we set out to do in 2013; get all the main ‘lived in’ areas of the house sorted by Christmas. I’ll look forward to catching you up with how it all looks over the next few months, with full room reveals I promise! The reaction from friends who visited over Christmas kind of affirmed how well we’ve done!

So, what lies ahead for the house in 2014? Well, honestly, we’ve run out of money and have a big old credit card (don’t worry, 0%) to pay off but – once that’s behind us – these are the bigger things still left to do:

  1. The study. It’s the 4th bedroom, but we’ll use it as a study plus maybe a bit of an over-spill dressing area.
  2. The utility room. What was the old kitchen and currently just a dumping ground.
  3. The house bathroom. Whilst it’s had a decent lick of paint and is certainly very useable we do plan to start again.
  4. The back garden. We have a patio/paving solution to find plus some general maintenance.
  5. The steps/driveway. Again, nothing that can’t wait and – I suspect – once we find out the costs, something that will end up waiting a good few years!!

Of course, there’s lots of little things and ongoing maintenance too but they’re the big ones. Will they happen in 2014? Some will, some won’t. We certainly won’t be having such a crazy year!

So, upcoming blog posts will mostly be showing things you haven’t yet seen (because I was so rubbish at staying on top of it all) plus other random ramblings. I’m not quite sure what direction this blog may end up taking – but hey, let’s just see. I ain’t gonna plan for anything, or plan against it.

In the meantime, I have had comments that there haven’t been enough Humph pictures. Sorry, here you go:

sunlightHumph

He isn’t actually that happy about the nasty, dirty, old carpet. It’s the sun he likes. His taste is far superior, honest.

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