Saturday, 21 January 2017

Birthdays, Bakes and Running

2017, so far so good.

January is mostly about birthdays at Vivod. The eldest turned 19 which was uneventful, she didn't even go out to celebrate! This year, for her, is particularly stressful as she's finishing her A-Levels and really hoping to get a place Manchester Uni to study English and Drama. She's working really hard and staying very focused, I admire her greatly.

The middle child turned 17 which, of course, can never be uneventful, it's the middle child after all. She went on her very first driving lesson which apparently went well, here's a quote from our family chat that she posted on her return:

"Dan (driving instructor) basically said I was mint and was well impressed"

Oh the confidence at 17! :-) Don't worry, she has no plans to study English at degree level, as you might tell, she has her own path to find in life but her priority right now is to learn to drive and to find a job that pays enough to fund the purchase of a car and insurance, but she's focused on that so I can't complain.

I'm always on the lookout for an excuse to use my new Kenwood Chef, so when I returned from work that day I made her this...

It's so hard to believe she'll be an adult in less than a year.

So in between birthdays and work I've been running as much as I can (well maybe not that much but lots) to train for the first half marathon of the year. The Four Villages Half Marathon took place on 15th January. It started and finished in Helsby, in Cheshire, but encompasses 3 other villages too along the way, as you may have guessed. It a scenic route even on a wet and windy day and you get one of these at the end to add to the collection:

I'm trying my best to finish a half in under 2 hours but I'm quite a way off at the moment. I did the 4 villages in 2:09 but it was hilly so we'll see how the next ones goes in a month. The next one's flat so I'm hoping to get in around 2:07 ish but you never can tell what will happen on the day.

One last photo to finish off which was today's bake:

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 was a good year

I know there were lots of things I didn't tell you about along the way so here's a little round up of 2016. I'll hopefully have a little more time for blogging in 2017, no big projects planned, although neither were there this time last year!

Which reminds me, I never did elaborate on why I did the kitchen this year. Well in February someone broke into the sun room and raided our washing, they didn't take anything as far as we could tell though. Given that the Sunroom wasn't actually locked properly in 5 years I don't know why this made us suddenly feel more insecure, and I also doubt that it was the first time this happened. None the less middle child wasn't happy about it and I wasn't happy that she wasn't, so it all began. I'm now, obviously, very grateful to the person that did this, that person that gave me the kick up the rear to get it sorted as I have the best house in the terrace, with the best kitchen ever, and the most secure French Doors too!

So what else?

Child #1 is no longer a child, she turned 18 at the beginning of the year, I would stay in style but by the end of the night she had very little style left...

This is a more recent photo of her, just look at the obvious difference and I'm very proud of her. In total she has lost an incredible 4 stone in just over a year, alongside studying hard and partying just as hard. She continues to amaze me all the time.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor

Child #3 started high school! He's such a cutie.

Child #2 left school,finally, it was a long slog for me too, and she went to Prom!! None of us thought she would make it and the school threatened so many times to take the privilege away but she got through. So proud, she's had it tough. 

With her 'big' sister.

Child #2 also went to the Leeds Festival on her own (well with some friends) and came home in one piece, on the bus, looking like this...with Tonsillitis!

I did a few crafty type things as always...

I ran 646 miles, including 2 half marathons and a couple of 10Ks.

I rode in a helicopter, no joke, and very scary...

And the cat did a lot more of this...

Happy new year all, I hope 2016 was good for you too but if not then I hope 2017 will be better.


Friday, 30 December 2016

The latest on the Kitchen

Ok, I know its the end of December and the project started at the end of May but its still not finished!

To do list:

  • The Joiner needs to fit kick boards and pelmets. 
  • I need to choose tiles and tile under the cupboards. 
  • I need to paint the rest of the kitchen (its only had a base white).
  • The Joiner needs to fit skirting and architrave.
  • I need to get glass shelves cut for 3 of the cupboards (they had to be slightly cut down to get them inline with the other top cupboards as the walls are thicker in the extension). These should be ready to collect in mid January though.
  • The extractor fan needs coring outside (I don't own the right size bit to do it right now)
  • I need to purchase a little table and chairs for the end of the kitchen so that I can sit a sip tea in the mornings, or wine in the evenings and look out into my beautifully landscaped building site, I mean garden (eventually).
But, aside from all of that I still absolutely love my kitchen.

This is a snippet of what has been produced over the last few weeks, and the reason I have to run miles and miles every week!

Black Forest Gateau

Banana Bread

The best Millionaires Shortbread in the world ever! 

Vegan Chocolate Brownies

Gingerbread men and stars

And, most recently, Christmas Dinner!!!

The Sink Saga

So, all was well, or so I thought.

When I ordered the kitchen, at the end of July, the sink I wanted (and was completely unwilling to compromise on) was out of stock. Ikea told me they had ordered one, and that someone would call to take payment within a couple of weeks. No problem.

3 weeks passed. 

At this point I contacted them (not that easy to do by the way) and they assured me that they were expecting new stock imminently. When?? They could say but within a day or so. We went into the store to check - same story. At this point I was stock checking my local store and every other UK store (yes I was willing to drive to any of them to pick up a sink) but they didn't have any. I widened my search - to encompass France and, to be honest, any European country (grateful that Brexit was still in progress at this point). Out of stock. The nearest store to me that had any of them was San Diego. I did get as far as calculating the cost of shipping one but it would have still taken weeks to arrive. 

The other problem was that without a sink in place, I couldn't get the Granite fitted either because the sink had to sit on the Granite for support. So from the end of August, when we moved back into the real kitchen, we survived with the rhino tub, hose and kettle for a sink, and some left over slate for worktops. This was not the dream I had envisaged, although I was still thankful for a kitchen in the right room.

After many emails, and much stress, the IKEA website was updated and, for the first time, you could order the sink online. It was too good to be true. It would appear, according to my bank statement and recent emails that I had purchased the sink and arranged delivery for 24th September. I wasn't prepared to believe it until it arrived. Which it DID!!

Within a week the Granite company had been in to measure and fitted the Granite, and the Plumber had installed said sink.

I am glad I held out for it, its the best sink ever. I absolutely love it and it makes the 75 days without a sink, yes 75 DAYS(!), all worthwhile. I still, even now, smile occasionally at that fact that I have running water (hot and cold) from a tap in my kitchen, into and out of (to a drain outside), my beautiful sink. It's amazing what living without basic things do to your appreciation of them later.

A kitchen in the kitchen, kind of

I'm pleased to say that around the middle to end of August we actually had a kitchen (almost) in the right room of the house again. It was a joint effort between the Joiner and I as I needed to save money somewhere. I built the flat packs, he attached them to the wall, and I put the fronts, handles, shelves  and lighting in. 

I also finally got French Doors (bit of a saga but not the worst)...

My work

The Joiner's work.

Slowly but surely.

Life with 3 Kitchens!

Should I have needed to market Vivod at the beginning of August the Estate Agent listing would have read something like:

"Mid terraced property comprising 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, attic room, lovely front garden, 1 small kitchen (lacking plumbing), 1 IKEA warehouse, 1 large utility room with plumbing for washer and hose connection (needs some work) and 1 building site"

And yet we really were still living there, somehow, even though it was also my very busiest time at work too, thank heavens for wine.

You could argue that I actually had 3 kitchens at that point:

The one at the front:

The one at the back:

And the one in the middle:

Luckily by this point the plasterers had been in, and having not been able to locate a tiler, I had purchased a decent tile cutter and laid the damn slate myself.