Next week is moving week so we were giving the house a little makeover. Our schedule is a bit of a pain seeing as this weekend was the last weekend we had to properly tackle the house as we are away for the bank holiday this weekend and then Saturday after we are out of there. Thank God its still summer and have a few extra hours of sunlight when we get home! Ideally, and its becoming more apparent, a revamp closer to the move would be better, less chance of things getting dirty again but it’s just not looking likely. Instead, we were going for total clean now so when it comes to moving day, a run over with a cloth and a good hoovering should do us.
Last weekend saw the beginning of Operation Lets-get-every-penny-of-our-deposit-back and starting with the worst offender, we decided to tackle the bathroom first. It has no window, only an extractor fan for ventilation which isn’t great if your shower lasts more than 3 minutes so the walls and the grouting around the tiles have always suffered… Ok, they look down right awful. After Mr P washed the walls and the tiles, moped the floor and scrubbed the porcelain, it was still pretty much the same (as it always is to be fair) so I just had to paint. Seeing as its only one un-tiled wall and the ceiling, a little one litre tub on mould resistant bathroom paint was ideal and the walls look pretty good now. It did take 2 coats on the walls though because the paint is so thick, if you go over an area and then have to come back a few minutes later after its started drying, the roller will bring up the paint again and it will look blotchy. Seriously, give up for a day then run a roller over it again quickly, problem solved. We will just be showering with the door wide open until we move, a view of Mr P I’m sure I can live with…
The grouting has always irked me in the house. The grouting in the kitchen looked better after I spent a day a few months back steaming and bleaching and scrubbing with a tooth brush but the bathroom grouting has always just been beyond that. It meant drastic measures. I bought a bleach pen for grouting and I would have to say to you guys, never bother. It just doesnt do anything that normal bleach wouldn’t, which in our case was nada. I did buy a grout pen or two though and while the job can be fiddly, it seriously looked a load better so in my opinion, very much worth it. Unibond did a great grout pen although it was seriously chunky but covered much better.
The skirting in the house is actually fine, its that shiny lacquer type paint so a decent once over with a damp cloth has been fine, the walls however are a wee bit scuffed so a once over with a big ol’ pot of magnolia have really done the trick no problem. The outside wall and the ceiling in the bedroom are quite stained though, there is squat in the way of ventilation in our house so we tend to get a build up of mildew in the winter which we clean every few months leaving some rather fetching grey smudges about. I used the mould killer on the walls and ceiling and left to dry before I’ll paint with the last of the bathroom paint, once that is dry its just a case of going over the white bits on the walls with the magnolia. Same treatment for all around the windows in the house and all will be peachy. I have done some painting this week, but my nights are now being occupied by the making of my Nan’s cake for the weekend, because hands covered in paint and mould killer when decorating a cake are never a good thing, it’s really one or the other for my evenings.
The tiles and the grouting in the kitchen got a good scrubbing as well as the cabinets inside and out and white goods. The oven was left to soak in some spray on caustic oven cleaner which stinks to high hell but it did a bloody good job, it still could do with another clean before we go but inside the oven is shining again so I’m a happy bunny. The last time I tried to clean it, I scrubbed for hours barely making a difference to anything other than the colour of my fingernails. We cleaned up and dusted all the light fitting bits as well, probably should have done that at some point in the 3 years we were there but hey ho, done now.
As for the carpets, I Googled and YouTube’d carpet cleaners and with the option of either the Rug Doctor or the Bissell Big Green Cleaning Machine, both of which I can rent pretty close to me, I have decided on the Bissell. Next week, I have the Friday before the move day Saturday off so I will tackle the carpet then in the light of day which should give me plenty of time and time enough for the carpet to dry as well. Less time for it to get dirty again!
Packing wise, we have gone through pretty much everything and bagged/boxed up everything that definitely won’t get used/worn in the next few weeks, then went through and packed everything that probably wont be used and left them in open boxes so if for any reason we need anything, its on the top in the box and within reach. There’s plenty we can live without and its really all in boxes under the stairs now, mostly books and dvds to be fair but I’ve got a box of all our paperwork and that’s being kept in sight and all together just so we know where everything is, probably for the first time since we moved in actually! All that’s left is the last minute stuff closer to the big day and we are ahead of schedule people!
- Veg – You can use anything, peppers are good for instance but all I had at home today was Courgettes, Marrow, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onion, Garlic
- Sausages – meaty or vegan
- Oil – vegetable or olive oil, whatever you have
- Pinch of Pepper
- Pinch of Sugar
This is something I have been making for a while now actually, its a cross between two meals I’ve had before and is one of the simplest things to cook, it just takes a while in the oven. Since the other half has started eating vegan, the kind of vegan that just eats for the health benefit and doesnt care in the slightest if I accidentally fed him cream (if you buy a cake that’s vegan, why would it be filled with cream?!) I have had a seriously hard time dealing with it. I came from a roast dinner every Sunday and sandwiches aren’t worth their name if they don’t have some kind of ham in them kinda world. Hence why I pretty much stopped cooking for a good while.
Seeing as I can’t bring myself to leave him, damn him for making me love him then dropping a v-bomb (relax babe, I’m kinda joking ), I have decided to have a few things that I can make vegan so we can eat together again at least some times. No that isn’t harsh before you think that, I’m not vegan and I’m not giving up my cheese, can’t do it/ won’t do it. We ate a lot of veggie food before anyway but vegan is too constricting for me, I always think whatever I’m eating would taste better with cheese in it or an egg on top. So here I am, finding some vegan foods that I’d be happy eating.
Most things that are food replacements like tofu, vegan cheese, vegan sausages, vegan meat etc taste like **** to me, but Mr P actually found these vegan sausages in Waitrose that aren’t too bad, even for a meat lover like myself. If your not vegan, good old Lancashires or Cumberlands will do very nicely here.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C, chop up all the veg into cubes roughly the same size (between half an inch and inch cubes are good) and cut the onions into thick shreds. Peel a few garlic cloves (we love garlic so so I tend to use at least five or six) crush with the knife and chuck those in with the rest of the veg. Toss everything in a drizzle of oil, some pepper and a small pinch of sugar, this just help the outsides caramelise but feel free to leave it out then throw the lot in an oven dish. Its ok if it’s a little crowded even though they are roasting so long as you make sure you mix them up, this way they go soft and lovely with some crunchy bits for extra yum.
Cook for about an hour, taking it out halfway to mix up the veg so all cooks evenly. At the hour mark, mix the veg up again gently, pierce some sausages and chuck on top of the veg for another twenty mins in the oven, turning the sausages over halfway through cooking. If you are having half and half, vegan and good old meatys, throw the vegan sausages on the veg and just put the meatys on a separate tray/in a pan to cook. Once the times up, check the sausages are done then tuck in. Told you it was stupidly easy!
I had a little mishap with a tea towel, the hot metal shelf in oven and three of my fingers so the lovely Mr P dished this up, yes it looks a little messy but that’s what happens when you are incapacitated so you let a man attack his favourite dinner with a wooden spoon after only just realising I could make it vegan and all he’s eaten the last few months was beans and falafel. It can be dished up a little neater but the veg are soft and breaky-upy so you have been warned but if like me you are pulling your hair out living with a vegan, this will get you a ton of brownie points. Enjoy!
NB: Sorry for the pic’s when we move to the new place the kitchen actually has windows so you should be able to actually see what the photo’s are of!
We are moving baby! Well, at the end of the month anyway. Emotional? well yes but the idea of not freezing my butt off in the winter and being able to sleep in the summer actually is starting to grow on me. Unfortunately, at the moment I am being driven demented. I’m not exactly the most patient person, normally controlled with coping mechanisms like writing lists and mentally planning anything I can get away with but this? This wait is driving me demented.
My plan was to totally boss this move, like I beat your score, enter A-A-A type levels of epic organisation skills. Why are you staring at me like that? Well, please don’t hit me for this, turns out moving can be pretty simple if you have an over-active control freak gland. And if you don’t have that much stuff. For those of you out there who are sane and don’t see things like moving as a competitive sport, this is how I have over planned this, I mean to the point where I have absolutely nothing I can do until the week before we move, and even then I could get everything done in a day, sigh.
First thing I did when we were given notice was jump straight onto Rightmove and Zoopla to find somewhere else, then arrange viewings starting the next day. That’s how I roll, I’m sure you can take your time with this but why? Decent places are few and far between so take a few mins to look and set up an alert and you won’t miss anything, I mean it does everything for you! Just remember, if a property looks great but has been posted up on there for over a month (in some cases 4 months!), you will want to find out why. There’s got to be a reason no one wants to live there right? I nearly moved in above a nightclub once, not cool. Secondly, don’t judge a property by its pictures, or lack there of. We spent a whole day on viewings for properties that fell into both the too expensive and too small categories (rent since we signed our lease about 3 years ago has definitely gone up!) The last property we saw only had a picture of the outside of the place which made us very suspicious. Saying that it had only been posted up a few days before so we gave it the benefit of a doubt. That people, is the place that will be our new home. Turned out the couple in there had little babies so the agents hadn’t had chance to get access yet for inside pictures. Course, it could have been a hell hole just as easily but you never know till you go, see, it rhymes so it must be true.
We are only renting so I can’t say anything about buying a new home but as for being ready to move out and set up in the new place? I got this.
As Early As Possible:
This is a good opportunity to de-clutter and either chuck, recycle or send to the charity shop any stuff that you know you should really get rid of. Or do a car boot if you have enough stuff, raise some moving funds! You know you should have done it years ago, doing it now means less crap to lug over to the new place.
Write a list of everyone that has your address and every company you pay bills to and keep them to hand. Go through your post and your bank statements to get an idea, you will come up with things you wouldn’t think of. This will be an action plan waiting to happen. Trust me, once you have this you know where you stand and its just a few calls after that, no stress.
- Banks – obvious I know but don’t forget credit cards or store cards either.
- Utilities – I’m talking electric, gas and water. Do you get charges a communal grounds fee, if you live in flats/apartments? You are going to want to tell them too if it’s not through your landlord. You have better put down your phone, internet and TV companies too, they can be pains to deal with at the best of times. Speaking of TV, put down the TV licencing people too. Oh and your mobile phone company.
- Insurance – Car, home, life, pet, phone, specialist pet dinosaur, anything and everything.
- DVLA – Driving licence fair enough but don’t forget your vehicle registration documents too! Seriously, waiting in a DVLA office is torture.
- Healthcare – Doctors, Opticians, Dentists, all the people you do your best to avoid.
- The Council – for your tax etc, especially if you moving out of the local area. I may be wrong as I don’t have kids but these are the guys to tell for you benefits/child tax credit things right?
- Deliveries – I get a weekly veggie box and Graze boxes delivered. Unless your OK with the next people getting free food but that’s your prerogative guys. What about the Sunday papers?
- Vouchers – Tescos clubcard vouchers, nectar point vouchers that kinda thing. Always helpful when moneys tight after you move and spent all your money of the estate agents referencing fees.
- Accounts – Think Amazon or Play accounts, anything where you buy for delivery, do you shop with Littlewoods or anything like that? Also if you have an account with online retailers of tickets, Ticketmaster, Seetickets, Eventim, that kind of thing. Trust me, I’m not missing out on my MGMT, Pixies or Slackers gigs this year.
- Family and Friends – Just so they don’t pop by to see you and are greeted by a random and slightly confused family because they wanted to surprise you with a visit at some point. I hear they don’t find that kind of thing as funny as I do.
- Work – So they know where to send your payslips, obviously =]
When All Is Confirmed:
Physically speaking, you will need to think about how you are going to move. How much stuff do you have? Is it worth doing yourselves or just hiring a company to come in and hand the reigns over too? Do you have kids to help/get in the way? Pets? Same as last question. How far are you going? Is it worth hiring a van to do it yourself? If so can you do a few trips if your moving local or will it have to be done in one go? How many friends/family will be about to guilt into helping?
Get our list of companies etc and work out when roughly you will need to let each one know. I have changed the details on the TV licence and water but most places like the electric only need to know a few days in advance of you moving anyway, some, like my bank said to ring after we have moved! Things like TV or broadband accounts etc you could probably look to tell them as soon as possible, I’m sure they will try to get crafty with contract fees and leaving fees etc, better get it sorted now before the rest of everything happens. With the rest, at least you know when roughly to hit the phones.
It’s a good idea to start thinking about food, using up as much as you can so there is less to move, particularly with frozen goodies, there were burgers in mine I forgot we even had, score! It’s also good to know that when you move to the new place, everything will be fairly new and with a long shelf life, yes I’m talking to you, hidden bottle of sweet chilli sauce that ruined Mr P’s dinner when he realised it was off after smothering his dinner in it. Also toiletries, I have no idea why there are 3 half used bottles of conditioner in my bathroom.
We don’t have a lot of stuff but it may be an idea to make a note of what you have, like an inventory, but lets face it, seeing as Me and He don’t actually own that much stuff there really isn’t much of a point for us. Instead I’ve started making sure all our things are together in certain places, ALL toiletries in the bathroom, ALL paperwork in just the one box, not scattered about the house hiding behind bookcases etc. All DVD’s/games/blurays/books in cabinets, random earrings being found on window sills, that kind of thing. Keep your documents like statements and driving counterparts in one place and all together! Once everything is where is should be without stragglers hiding in other rooms, when it comes to packing, you will have everything already organised ready to box up and ship out. When to pack it up to you, I could have everything done in a day so we are leaving it till late but we have already started thinking about boxing up old books and winter jackets, things that wont even get looked at this month, just because we could, just to make it feel like we are moving. Once you have a general idea how much stuff and therefore how long it should take you to pack, you will know when to start at it packing. Don’t forget to scour through those little hidey holes, under stairs, in the attic etc for things to be packed, I must remember not to leave without my Christmas dec’s.
Money wise, I want every penny of my deposit back on our place at the moment so a good thorough spring clean is in order, I have planned it so the week before moving week is cleaning week. I found the paint that was used when the house was decorated before we moved so I can match it and pick up a pot and repaint the walls covering three years of scuff marks and fading. I’ve also sorted out renting a fancy super-duper carpet cleaner to get our deep cream carpets back to bright cream. Probably unnecessary, I mean our place isn’t a state by any stretch but it will make me feel a lot better about leaving it (and honestly, we would have done it anyway if we were staying). Oh and the oven is going to get a bloody good cleaning too, when the landlord comes round to moving in, he can’t complain or take money off our deposit. You probably won’t need to do all this but if there is anything you know you should get sorted before you go, there’s no time like the present right? Don’t give them any excuse to take money from you.
For now that’s it, it’s just a waiting game till we get packing and going, that will be the end of the month but until then, I should really start looking for some decent vegan recipes.
Well, the control freak inside me is freaking out quite a bit. You see, this summer, things have changed and are changing quite a bit and the little freak inside me is rocking back and forth, talking to herself and writing list after list after list in order to retain some sense of control. Don’t worry, I’m sure she will pull through. She’s still coming to terms with the fact she has to give up her kitchen. Ah the memories.
We (Myself and Mr P, not me and my inner freak) were given notice on the house we rent, nothing malicious, the landlord needs to move back in and unfortunately, we take up quite a bit of space so we have to go. Quite sad considering that it was our first home together and after nearly 3 years, we had filled it with our lovely crap and had our mess in perfectly organised chaos. Ok, we were starting to out grow it. As for Mr P, he starts a new job this week where I know he will absolutely astound everyone there with his Rainman-esque abilities, Babe, kick butt He has also decided to eat vegan, which as much as I love him, is a total pain in the butt and I’ve totally given up on cooking recently. He’s my sole encouragement and muse when it comes to cooking, well, was. Vegetarian I can understand, vegan makes my brain melt. It’s seriously all gone a bit twilight zone over here.
Well, ever optimistic over here (I’m not even sure if that’s sarcasm) I’m sure this is going to be great. We have found a place that’s ridiculously close to my office, I mean I know people in the office that park their car further away down the back roads coming to work here than our new place will be. I’ll save on petrol but I’ll admit, it will be weird without my little drive into work, in MY car listening to MY radio. On the plus side, I get a nice lie in. Oh and we will have a garden and a spare bedroom which will no doubt be used to store more of our junk/house the occasional guest/store my growing number of cake related goodies/house our little used cross trainer and rowing machine/store supplies like bottled water, candles, extra tinned goods, loo roll etc for any upcoming blackouts, flu epidemics, zombie apocalypses (apocalypsi?). How exciting.
I probably should learn to cook at least a few vegan things too, but right now I’m all about the moving lists. At least the kitchen should inspire me to get back cooking, its lovely and it even has windows in it [gasp] so hopefully the lighting should be better! Ok, I’m off to write some more lists, I even have a schedule and everything! I’ll freak you guys out with that soon. Oh and I will get to making that chocolate courgette cake soon I swear.
This weekend was camping weekend. We have ourselves a rather awesome tent and decided to put it to good use by escaping London and heading down towards the south coast and setting up in the woods with – and you’re going to love this – NO mobile phone reception! Mighty daring for London folk eh? The weekend started out insanely stressy, we were later than expected leaving, we had really neglected to pack anything like clothes until we got home Friday and to top it all off, spend two and a half hours on the M25 in traffic in what should have been a 45 min maximum part of the journey. We arrived late, about 9pm when we should have been there for 8pm latest. After that? A piece of heaven.
We stayed at a camp site called Blackberry Woods which is about 8 miles or so up from Brighton which for the both of us for two nights totalled at £46 so not the cheapest camp site I’ve come across but very much worth it. On arrival, we were given a map of the camp site (we stayed in the wild side camp) and some of the surrounding walks, most of which ended up at pubs, score! We parked up and went for a walk to find a good pitch. Into the woods were a few more pitches than nearer the road and we ended up picking a lovely little patch of awesomeness called Grrrr, I really mean that, its was even sign posted and next door to Gnarly. We picked up one of the wheelbarrows that they leave about for shifting your gear about (nice touch huh) and got to setting up tent. Well I did, I love that stuff, it’s like puzzles or Lego in real grown up life. Bliss.
Despite the many walks we planned to take after seeing the gorgeous views, windy little woodland paths and thinking of all the places we were going visit, we ended up only taking a brief drive into the village Saturday evening because Mr P has run out of cigarettes and spent the rest of the time lazing about in the insane heat and drinking wine in the evening. I did all the cooking, which I have to say, thanks to me having quite well organised the food Thursday night, was pretty minimal. We hadn’t used our cool box properly yet so I wasn’t about to risk the well being of a big ol’ steak or a pint of milk on it keeping cool enough so opted for safer options for dinners. Honestly, the cool box did OK considering the 30 degree heat, it kept the food reasonably cool, by that I mean ‘cool’ as in not warm, not actually cool cool.
My cool box staples for camping were shelf stable milk for teas and coffees as well as Mr P’s almond milk stuff, eggs, some flora spread, a pot of salad, a pot of hummus and the dinners-in-a-bag I sorted out before we left. We kept some fruit, a small loaf of bread, some pitas, bread sticks, crisps, popcorn in a small bag so we didn’t have to keep letting the non-cool out of the cool box whenever we wanted a snack. Oh yeah and a separate supermarket style carrier/cool bag for the beers/cider/rum/coke/wine… Because we could. Thanks to the loan from Laura of a camping cooker and a kettle, I had an egg sandwich and a mug of coffee for breakfast Saturday morning which was just what I needed. Friday night’s dinner from bag No.1 consisted of sweet potato falafel and hummus in a pita, at least I think it was, it was bloody dark by that point. Dinner Saturday night from bag No.2 was couscous with some stuff, I think I’m officially naming it that by the way. Now for the recipe (-ish) bit. The zip lock type bag (I love zip lock bags by the way) over there has two sandwich bags in it, one with some dry couscous and three vegetable stock cubes in it and the other with some vaguely caramelised onions, raw orange pepper and a half tin of drained chickpeas (add whatever to this, this is just what I had to hand). Dinner in five minutes, well ten if your camping. Boil the kettle, put the couscous in a saucepan and crumble the stock cubes over making sure its evenly mixed throughout, add boiling water to cover couscous and cover pot with lid and leave aside for 5 minutes. During this time you can heat the bag of veg and chickpeas but we didn’t bother. After five mins, fork through to fluff, throw in the veggie assortment, mix in and chow down. How about that for an easy dinner. With some salad, some bread sticks with hummus and a bottle of wine arranged on a picnic blanket, it makes for a mighty posh picnic, or tipsy picnic, yeah that’s what I meant, tipsy.
Seeing as we arrived a little too late to faff with a fire on the Friday, Saturday we were all kinds of stupidly excited (Ok, I was) to make a fire, I waited all freaking day to light that thing and decided just after 8 that I’d start it. About an hour and a half, half a toilet roll (we tried to light a sheet or two under the kindling to get it to catch) and I think I even tried lighting a jelly baby hoping the gelatin would catch for some reason (I don’t know either so don’t ask), we finally accepted that the wood was just too damp from the dew the night before to actually catch. Out came the camping stove for the marshmallows instead which got me thinking. I whipped out the old frying pan and ‘cooked’ some of the kindling and tried setting it alight, in the fire pit, not the pan. The bloody thing actually stayed alight! So after a few more lightly toasted logs, the rest of the logs were left to the side of the main fire to heat and then stoked into the centre. The logs were still damp on the inside, there was much crackling but the fire kept burning for hours, now those toasted marshmallows of victory were sweeeeet! It distracted us from the freaky face that was in the wood bag and the walking in complete dark through the woods to get to the loos after dark that’s for sure! Scary!