87. the one with the bathroom – part 1

(subtitle: “the one where the bathroom does not occur.” in fact, i’ll hardly mention the bathroom at all)

a few years ago i painted the landing outside our bedroom.
typically, the job was never really finished because the shelf didn’t want to go back on the crumbly walls, and with nowhere to stack overflow books (we have a system), we just stuffed things into the cupboard, crammed it into boxes, progressed to “tidy piles”… before it inevitably deteriorated into a general dumping area for everything.


if only there was some way of fixing that shelf to the wall

meanwhile, we’d booked the builders to come and sort out our bathroom.
much excitement! for the first time we were paying actual proper professionals to come and do an actual proper job – no personal faff or injuries or lengthy incovenience(s).
i knew i couldn’t keep up the sewing part of my life if i couldn’t potter about in Clean & wash my hands obsessively throughout the day, so i decided to shut down for the month BACK IN FEBRUARY.
and because, hey! that’d give me time out to sort all the crap on the landing and fix the shelf!

i might as well be thorough with the 40 years worth of “treasure” that needed sorting
i might as well paint the wooden cupboard as i’ve been wanting to do for years
i might as well fix the hairline cracks on the old plaster
i might as well give the walls a fresh coat of paint
while i’m at it.

fucked thwarted at the first hurdle.
“hmmm. now where might be the small tin of wood primer, i wonder”
instagram shed

1. stupid, annoying little things that can wrong… for eg, i’d done far too good a job on that damn cupboard the first time round – so smooth and glowing with wax, it wouldn’t take a coat of paint despite litres of thinners and all of the sanding.
careful application of masking tape to protect the precious carpet stripped lengths of new paintwork off when it did adhere.
the hinges no longer fitted when i reconstructed the thing.
let alone the doors.

2. being my own worst enemy… for eg, adding additional hurdles. oh hey, the shed’s a bit of a mess after 12 years of hoarding every building supply ever, let’s hire a skip and spend the entire weekend clearing it out so we can go inside of the door again.
oh hey, since i’m in painting mode anyway, shall we buy that chest of drawers for the bedroom that we’ve been talking about forever?

3. everything just being awkward… for eg, not having anywhere to work… apart from on the floor beside and/or at the foot of the bed, woodwork arranged on top of lengths of christmas wrapping paper so we could drag sticky wet painty things aside and step over the towers of stuff-from-on-the-landing crap just to get into bed at night.

meanwhile, additional surprise hurdles
“hi, your new front door is fiiiiiiinally ready to be fitted”
^ the “after” picture is the one on the right. the one where the door isn’t entirely held together by mould, daylight & gripfill. just in case you weren’t sure.

excellent! i’ll get started on painting the door as well then…new door
…and while that’s drying, i might like to paint the chimney alcoves in the bedroom before arranging the new chest of drawers…

*chaotic frenzy of doing all the things at once* <– incidently, this is the moment i decided i ought to start blogging again :)

so as march whooshes towards its end and i’m itching to get back to my sewings;
the door is mostly painted, inside & out. (but not the frame. that is for next month maybe)
invisible green door

the bedroom is clean and painted and there is 7% extra storage space

the landing JUST NEEDS A F**%ING SHELF and for my daddy to please come and rehang the cupboard doors so they open and close like they used to before i had one of my stupid Good Ideas.

to summarise then; all i had intended to do this month was fit a shelf that was strong enough to store a few books and comics upon.
FURTHERMORE i was only doing that as a filler job while the builders were here constructing my new bathroom.


to be continued? *hopeful*


83. the one with the fire

in my absence since my last post(s), i’ve just been doing a lot of mind-blogging.
i want to write stuff – but i haven’t had time or i’ve been too tired ‘n headachey to sit here – so i “write” in my head while i’m doing busy work, and i frequently look at things and imagine that i’d take pictures (if i had my camera to hand) and write about that stuff too.

it’s been a busy few months. especially inside of my brain.

but now i’ve reached a point where i feel like i can’t start 2014 properly until i’ve tidied up from 2013. so here:

(***and so that i can elicit maximum sympathy, it’s important for you to remember that all of these things were going on at the same time)

1. i was determined to stop sewing-work on november 1st so i’d have plenty of leisurely time to complete all of the other things i had to do… but as soon as i’d packed my machines away, i had loads of new ideas.
and with so many other things to avoid…
calm 01

… i kept working & didn’t hang up my sewing hands until december 18th.

2. one of my very BFFs was in the UK for a couple of months so we wanted to squeeze in as much time together as we could *tick*
tea, chat, reminisces, films, late nights, lolz, wine, pub meals, belper’s winter food fair, more pub… *tick tick tick*

3. i seem to have contracted (crazy/senile/deaf/needy)collie-induced insomnia <– i feel qualified to make that medical diagnosis having watched seasons 1 – 8 of House, MD in 6 short weeks.
after enduring months & months of 2-hour bursts of sleeps i’m awfully tired and not always in the sunniest of moods (haha).
we’re still best pals though – she’s absolutely my favourite person ever :)
christmas collie

4. diy stuff. the main event. the end-of-year thing i’d been avoiding most.

old woodburner

after looking at this dusty, rusty monstrosity for 5+ years we could finally afford to replace it.

i’ve been tripping over that stupid hearth & looking at its stupid, ugly (badly fitted) broken tiles EVERY DAY.
hoovering up falling soot & Bits from the badly fitted fitted flue EVERY WEEK.
wet dusting each dimpled surface and stupid claw foot (erm.. LESS OFTEN) to keep the dust allergy at bay.
scowling at the maroon lead-painted patchwork of… of…? i don’t even know what the fuck was going on at the back.
and spiders! so many spiders in all of the rough and the holes.
old flue

the whole fireular area has been offending my eyes daily for the last 5 years AND WE COULDNT EVEN USE THE FIRE.

smashing things up is always really good fun for the first 3 or 4 hours
fire 2

but then there’s awkward bits and hurty wrists and hammer-smashed knuckles and terrified collie and so much dust and then clean up. and then more clean up. and then getting everything bagged up & outside. and practising pathetic-face so the man delivering the skip takes pity on you…

after the old fire was out,
no fire

we spent daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaays brick cleanering & scrubbering (the original brickwork was in a very bad state so it was very much an exercise in turd-polishin’).

and then more dust (old hearth 1 – sds drill 0)

and then more days cleaning & scrubbering and filling holes and repointing brickwork until we were ready for the professionals…

new flue

who were awesome; hard working and tidy, and good humoured about stepping in anakin’s little “gifts”
new fire
(if you look closely you can probably still see dog shit under his boots)

finally they were all done :)
and here she is, all $leek and gorg£ou$, ready for her maiden fire, ready for
holly woodburner

5. christmas

shame about the rest of the room (work in progress)
self pity saturday

77. the one with the garden (and my rickety knee)

between all of the things and the sewings, i’ve been taking advantage of the continuing glorious weather, tackling loads of outside and gardening jobs.
technically, it’s probably been a bit too hot ‘n humid for stuff like digging in the full sun, but i think my south africa gene kicked in (once my very english heat rash had disappeared)

garden stuff

my garden’s still very much a work in progress, but i’m frequently frustrated and overwhelmed by it. and, like every other aspect of my life, i’m constantly berating myself for not doing enough.
which is when i bust out the old photos – just to remind myself i AM getting somewhere.

this is summer of 2007, when we first came to look at the cottage…
garden 2007

and this is the now…
garden 2013

it’s certainly much easier to get to the end of the garden now. and the hedge does not extend half way across it.

so i’ve been tinkering & weeding, repotting and relocating plants, chopping & painting… and i finally finished repointing the stone wall outside the kitchen window.

that was another stupid job – abandoned 3 years ago when sewings began to take up most of my time. and then, when i wasn’t sewing i didn’t want to “waste” my increasingly rickety wrists on it. so for 3 years, it’s been a daily visual reminder of yet something else you did not complete.
i actually didn’t even intend to mention this, but then i came across this photo of the wall as it was (in 2008), all covered in green slime and paint. grim.
wall 2008

which has allowed my stupid brain to consider this an achievement
wall 2013

well done, wrists! you did good.

we also erected (heh) some trellis above the wall ^ to screen our neighbour’s tatty old fence with future-climbers. no photo because some temporary summer insanity compelled me to paint it blue.
it’s hideous. 3 coats of brown applied (so far) to disguise it … but i’ve had to abandon that job for now…

i also fiiiiinally got all 4 chairs sanded & painted…
2 blue chairs

but all of that kneeling and crouching and digging and walking and bending proved too much for my increasingly rickety knees…


so i’ve spent most of this week relegated to the groundfloor, swollen knee elevated & icepack’d, mind-fretting about how much anti-inflammatories is safe to take whilst on anti-depressants.
the garden is still bathed in glorious however, and swarming with birds & butterflies, so it’s not the worst place to have to sit all day.

(although, i miiiiight’ve crawl-sneaked upstairs to do a little sewing…
sneaky sewing

i’m not very good at Just Sitting)

70. the one with the patio

i wasn’t going to write about this yet. i wanted to wait until i could go:

“here is the before picture” (arrow to show vague patio-ular area)

and “TA-DAAA! here is the after picture”
< which would’ve gone here >
but alas, the only things that’re Completely Finished, are my lower back and shoulders.

so since i’m having an enforced rest day today, i will show a bunch of half arsed, half finished things instead.

back in 2007, before we’d even moved in here, we spent every weekend attempting to clear the extreme-overgrown garden.
the little patio area at the end of the kitchen (which, back then, was just a coal shed) ended up looking a bit like this.
good job, guys!

and then apart from mixing plaster there, mowing the crack weeds, dumping crap, tripping on uneven paving slabs and very, very occasional sitting, we ignored it.
until friday.

friday patio

look, here’s our old friend from last weekend, the lol-wall
lol wall

on saturday, we treated ourselves to a skip.
the only access to our garden is through the house, so to clear all of that concrete, we had to smash it up and carry it through the lounge *sad face* one heavy load at a time.

saturday patio

i say “we”, but i mean Husband, obviously. i tinkered around the edges, digging up root systems and destroying ant nests and updating my facebook, while he did all of the hefty smashing and all of the heavy lifting.

sunday was more my thing. after we’d levelled (well, kinda.. ) the ground and put down 364878647367 layers of weed suppressant, i got to start on the good stuff. laying edging pavers is actually a job i really enjoy (it’s probably an ocd thing).

diy pyjamas

why yes, i am wearing pyjama pants and a bra. it’s the comfiest outfit for crawling around on your knees whilst working in hot weather.
(of course, the proper grown up, perfumey lady from next door picked that moment to pop round and see how we were getting on, which was only mildly humiliating)

by sunday evening we’d got a fair bit done. it’s probably a good thing that we ran out of supplies or we would’ve just kept working…
saturday gravel

i really meant to take a day off yesterday, but it seemed a shame to waste good weather… so i accidently sanded the slime off the fence and gave that a couple of coats of paint (i got bored after 2 panels though). and then i accidently started painting the chairs (i got a dehydration migraine after half of one though).

and today i’m too hurty to move, so TA-DAAAA! i present just half of all of the things!
glorious is glorious

i really do need to get on and finish it though – it appears that my edging pavers have already passed their use-by date :/

expired brick

69. the one with the lol-wall

there is a reason i am a freestyle embroiderererrerr and not a freestyle brick layer.

dad, please look away now
(i know, okay? everything.)

lol wall 02

i do actually know enough about brick laying to know that, apart from the fact my wall contains
1. bricks, and
2. mortar
everything else is wrong.

i feel like i should explain myself, but i’m not going to.
let’s just enjoy it for what it is.

lol wall 01 

my favourite part is this hump on the right ^

66. the one with the bathroom… part whatever

this is a photo of our bathroom from when we first moved into the cottage in 2007.

in january 2008, we made it nice but it soon became ruined by various problems that we only identified after living here a while. none of it was a priority, though.
not even when the roof leaked and the ceiling collapsed.

but suffering through arctic times, and spending a small fortune on antibiotics this winter has now made it a priority.

goodbye, rest of ceiling!
bath shit

goodbye, mouse shit!
mouse shit

*not shown*  goodbye tiny, mummified mouse corpse

goodbye, dust allergy & chronic sinusitis!
bath soot

hello, 3 days of washing & cleaning & hoovering & steamer-ing the f*** out of everything
bathroom after

^ this is like the “after” photo to compare with the 2007 “before” picture :)

while i was rearranging the kitchen cupboards today *cleaning-procrastination* i found some out of date uht milk that i bought for one of the apocalypses a few years ago.
out of date
i almost threw it away, thinking how Mom would be so proud if i did.

but then i thought about how, after an apocalypse, i will probably be grateful for any milk in my tea. even out of date morrisons value uht milk.
so i dusted it off and put it back.

59. the one with the tables

“dear all of the shops,
where is the tables that are just the right amount of high and with shelves exactly where i want them? the ones that’re simple, practical, inexpensive and made from untreated pine so i can decorate them how i want?”

“dad? could you…”

last week, my order was complete and ready to collect :)
console unpainted

^ a little console table for by the front door, for the phone and other crap.
exactly the right amount of high and the correct amount of wide to fit between the window & door. the top shelf is deep enough to fit 2x wellknownswedishretailer wicker baskets, and the bottom shelf is high enough off the floor that i can hoover under it (dog fur and spider webs, i predict) without moving stuff.

and a coffee table…
pine coffee table

^ again, the right amount of high and perfect for ease of under-hooverability, and the right amount of small (yet plenty big enough) to be proportionate in my little house.

(the TooBig wellknownswedishretailer coffee table we brought with us from the last house caused no end of shin injuries & stubbed toes as we tried to squeeze between it and the hearth. also, the hot from the fire kept melting the glued together joints…)

oh, did i mention how tiny our house is? this makes it really awkward when trying to do anything.
such as the painting of furniture for eg.
border collies also make things really awkward if you’re trying to do stuff.

dog fur varnish

luckily the beginning of the week was warm(ish) and most importantly NOT RAINING, so i took advantage of the Outside to apply undercoat, sand both pieces down, and woodstain the tops.
i daydream-thought i could watch romcoms for the rest of the week whilst painting, but after kneeling on damp, cold tiles for a couple of hours i decided Y / N.
also, picking dog fur out of wet varnish is faff.

so for the actual painting days, i simply shoehorned myself down the left side of the TooBig kitchen table by climbing onto a chair and dropping down behind the radiator kinda)  or stood on chairs to reach. fiona is not the right amount of tall, nor the right amount of flexible anymore.painting

by today though, everything was complete! *happy*
so i spent most of the day sorting out all of the crap (deckchairs / titanic. i have simply dumped everything in the kitchen) and cleaning all of the things before i put the NEW STUFF in place.
it’s almost like a normal person house!!!!!!!

coffee table

(except for the fact it’s still 87% building site)

console table

please to ignore the mould, the rotten door, the damp floors & plaster-falling-off-walls. apart from that though, like a normal person house!!!!!!!!

** hand made furniture by dad @ jft carpentry

43. the one with the bathroom roof joy*


because i’m so awesome at actoring, i bet no one even suspected i was in a foul mood last week. but actually i was!
the weekend passed in a pleasant blur of bathroom-woe *brainskimming* & homeland season 1, but then i contracted Husband’s consumption-plague-flu.
the builders were due first thing monday morning so instead of being able to sleep all day i had to get up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT practically. 7am is inhuman.

fortunately i was delirious with fever and too shivery to clean up that night, so Husband did it all. he also mopped up after an inch of indoor rain occurred overnight. if only he’d thought to photo it!
if you look closely, there is still evidence of the electric light water feature…

i couldn’t mope about in my pyjamas PROPERLY, so i got to work instead and finished off these embroidery hoops

and tried to avoid-ignore the autumnal carnage that was happening right outside the back door

no. of gilmore girls episodes watched – 11
boxes of tissues used- 4.5
cups of tea made – 6532654365355

“if you just keep sewing, fiona, you can pretend everything is fine.”

“but if i stay in here any longer i will have to hoover & tidy up”
 “facebook time, then!”

*somethingsomething* … more days … *something*
now the builders are finished and gone, i have a smart new roof, and i have cleaned all of the things. joy is occurring!

but tcho! that they’ve left dirty pointing-poop on my new velux.

42. the one with all of the woes

on wednesday, with torrential rain predicted for the end of the week, work finally began on my bathroom roof.

that was fine. the mess and dust was fine. the cold – fine. making endless rounds of tea for builders – fine. crawling out of the backdoor under ladders & trestles – fine. cleaning up soot every night so we could use the bathroom – fine.

it happens to have coincided with a freakishly busy sewing week where i can hardly keep up…
but i’m a trooper, so that was fine too. i simply divided the day into more portions… admin, work, maid, tv/admin, work, admin, bed.
6 hours sleep is fine.

but not today. today all of these things are not effing fine >:(

torrential rain when the roof is made of paper: not fine.

painful (cripple hands, remember) cleaning efforts WASTED when the paper roof turns out not to be watertight: not fine AT MIDNIGHT.

builders not turning up today due to non-delivery of velux window: not fine.

variety of dust allergy symptoms induced by continuing damp and soot and filth: not fine.

snapping all of the overlocker needles due to lack of concentration from extreme tired & sinus woes: not fine.

screwing up the one piece of work i *did* manage to do today: not fine.

and not being able to moan about everything on facebook: not fine. >:(


41. the one where the bathroom ceiling bursts its banks

*occurs during drizzlepocalypse of late september 2012*

d’you know what’s a really bad, non-waterproof construction method for a roof?
answer: moss and cobwebs.

i’ve been ignoring the exclamation mark shaped tidemark on the ceiling for some years time now, but late on sunday night whilst cleaning my teeth, actual WET occurred…

seriously. i thought only cartoons collected roof-leak drips in buckets and pans.
(i used an old bath towel and a washing up bowl which worked equally well, fyi.)


in a pretend home makeover show, ^ those would be the before pictures.
here is the after:

see? with a shiny new bucket, a piece of string (to direct the water down off the beams), and all of the saturated & stinking plaster neatly bagged up (along with my sense of humour) ready for the dump, it’s really quite tidy now.

all we need to do now, is save up for a new roof before we can fix the ceiling.

you know those things? off the telly? fund raising thermometers?
i made one for my fund using the rotten ceiling beams as markers

and i have coloured in all of the money we have raised so far.
awesome! :D