6/26/2014

Our home - The bathroom so far - part 2

We have gotten a lot further with our bathroom renovation since the last time I updated and I couldn't be happier. Everything seems to have taken shape all of a sudden and it's just how I envisioned our bathroom to look like. We are almost finished in the bathroom and just have the odd couple of jobs to do; grouting, more tiling, paint window frame, shower doors, tile around the bath, more grouting and the toilet and sink need to be installed. It's incredible to see what the bathroom looked like originally to what it looks like now. Here are the photo's of our progress-
















6/21/2014

Our home - The bedroom so far

Along with the bathroom one of the rooms we are really getting stuck into at the moment is the master bedroom. Although there is a lot of work still to do on the house once we have a working bathroom and kitchen, a living room and bedroom that is livable we can pretty much move in. The other jobs aren't major and can be done as we go. 

Here is our progress on the master bedroom -
As you can see the bedroom was very dated and decorated in a rather unattractive pea green. The previous home owner certainly had a thing for green as the bathroom was also in the exact same shade and they have even gone as far as painting some of the doors that colour too!



The bedroom was the first room I started on and it's one of those rooms we keep going back to when we couldn't go any further in another. First thing we did was strip the walls. The wallpaper came off very easily and underneath the walls were in an okay condition, thankfully. We also ripped up that awful green carpet too!


But you know how it goes. If everything ends up being straight forward and easy there is always a little hiccup. The hiccup in this room being the chimney breast. The wallpaper was really tough to get off on this area. It wasn't just wallpaper but it had been sealed with some sort of pink putty stuff which was so sticky and difficult to remove. It took us absolutely ages to remove the majority of the stuff and we ended up leaving it till another day. (A few weeks later the chimney breast was plastered over so we didn't even need to do it in the end!) 



The wallpaper on the ceiling came off incredibly easy to remove too. So easy infact that we didn't even need to use a steamer we literally just peeled it off in big chunks. We did have another one of those hiccups though as when pulling it down some of the ceilings plaster came down with it!


Rather than simply re plastered the ceiling we decided to have the ceiling dropped and re plastered so we could have spot lights installed. I wasn't really fussed about the lights as I do like a big feature chandelier or light shade but Nick loves the little spotlights so we went ahead.


The walls were lined with lining paper ready to be painted whilst the ceiling was plastered. This is when we really saw our bedroom coming together. 


We've decided to paint out ceiling and all woodwork white and the walls Mellow Mocha from Dulux. We are doing this at the moment so the next time I update on the bedroom it should be finished! Very exciting! 


6/19/2014

Saving and spending with Money Dashboard


I have never been the best when it comes to keeping track of my money. I would get paid, it would get spent. Easy come, easy go. I didn't think twice about it. 

This mindset all changed once I became a Mum. I realised it's time to be smarter with our finances as now it's not just us two, we have a baby to provide for. Both my partner and I work, fulltime and part but I am currently on maternity leave. I am nearing the end of my paid leave now so we are going to have a tough couple of months and are going to really have to cut back. Like all families we have money coming in but a lot of expenses going out. Not only will we be bringing in less money once my pay ends but we have just bought our first home. Mortgages are pricey but we have a full house renovation to pay for on top of that. Believe me when I say it's extremely expensive!

If that's not enough I would also like to start saving up again as all our savings where spent on our house deposit when we bought the house. It's feels good to have a little bit of money tucked away incase the car breaks down or you decide to book a last minute family holiday. You just feel so much more secure knowing you have a bit of spare money there if you need it. Saving for our future is one of our main priorities. 

As you can see we have a lot to pay for and save for. Knowing we are rather careless when it comes to spending and saving I find it really stressful and daunting when I attempt to think "money". It's also really frustrating knowing we should be managing our money a lot better but just don't know how. I wouldn't of known where to begin.

This is where Money Dashboard comes in. Did you know that you can manage your money online simply by signing up to this free and invaluable service? Money Dashboard is a personalised programme that shows you your finances and tells you exactly where your money is going on every online financial account that you have. All your online accounts are linked and they usually refresh every day. Your finances are then displayed on your dashboard which allows you to keep track and manage your finance at a glance. 



Not only does Money Dashboard track where your money is going but it breaks it down into categories such as household, leisure, petrol. It even shows you how much you spend in different shops which is perfect if you are a shopaholic who needs a wake up call! It even breaks down your expenditures into an array of different visual graphs. My personal favourite being the colour coded pie chart!.

Impressively it doesn't stop there. Their online budget planner tells you what you can spend each month and what will be left over to save. Whether you want to save up for that new car or pay off a store card the budget planner will help you reach your goals and teach you to be a savvy saver too.

I can't tell you how much Money Dashboard us going to help my family and I. I can now spend and save all whilst keeping a close eye on my finances. It's easy to use and understand and has made me feel more confident and in control when it comes to our money. I wish I had of discovered it sooner as I now feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Long gone are the days of sums, calculators and stress, I can put all of my trust into Money Dashboard!

This is a PR Collaboration. 

6/17/2014

Our home - The bathroom so far

We are currently knee deep in house renovations as you will know if you keep upto date with my blog and social media. Our entire house needed to be gutted and started from scratch so to say it's a big job is a slight understatement, it's huge!

We haven't been tackling one room at a time as you would usually do as we simply didn't have the time. We just got stuck in with everything, all at once. Which is a little stressful. 

Today I thought I would share the progress on our bathroom with you all. 


The bathroom was the worst room in the house. It was so dated with it's avacado green tiling and paintwork, it was like stepping back in time when entering that room. It's safe to say I wasn't sad in saying goodbye to any of the original bathrooms features. 


Time to get stuck in! First we ripped up the linoleum and threw that out. It was then time to take off the tiles. There's no polite way in removing tiles so out came the hammer and chisel. I have to say I did take some enjoyment out of smashing up all the tiles and it was rather therapeutic. 

 
The tiles came off pretty easy but I should of known that was too good to be true because underneath there was ANOTHER layer of tiles. They had tiled on tiles and I soon realised why. The bottom tiles were almost impossible to remove. But we got there and I removed the majority myself with very little injury! It's a bit daunting at first swinging a big hammer around and seeing tiles shattering and flying everywhere but after a cut or two it's no worry! 


When I began removing the tiles around the shower it pulled off all the plaster as you can see in the photo. This was a bit of a disaster as it now would need re plastering. Another one of those things! 


We decided to give the tiles a break and take out all of the bathroom fixtures. The bath was cast iron and was so heavy that I was surprised it hadn't fallen through the floorboards. It had to be sawn into pieces so we were able to take it downstairs and dispose of it. When we took the toilet out it absolutely stunk and we were gagging for days. Thankfully the stench soon went! 


We tried to tidy as we went but this renovation malarkey is messy work!


Once the tiles were fully removed we had our new boiler and central heating installed. I think the bathroom looks better at this point than it did to begin with although it was scary to see all the brick and bare floorboards.


This is where we are upto now. The plasterboards are up and the bathroom is finally starting to look like we are getting somewhere. We have also dropped the ceiling, had it re plastered and have had spot lights installed. We have already bought our bathroom suite and it's ready to go in. The next step is to begin tiling! So exciting! 



6/16/2014

Baby Diary: 7 Months Old


It literally doesn't feel like a minute ago that I was typing up your 6 month update. This month could possibly been the quickest month to date. There's no sign of time slowing down. Each month you come on leaps and bounds but this month you seem to have changed dramatically. Every day I seem to love you more and more and I don't even know how that is physically possibly! You are my best little buddy. 



Character
You are still that cheeky chappy we know and love. You are a dream first baby as you are just so easy to please and a pleasure to be around. You usually wake up with a smile and go to bed with one too. You love to smile and and laugh and give them away freely. We will have the odd day where you are cranky but that's usually when you are teething or a bit constipated. 

You have learnt how to throw a mini strop this month though. If you are playing with something that I would rather you not be and I take it off you, you will cry! Then if I give it back you stop. I now don't give it back as I don't want you to learn that if you throw a wobbler you will get your own way. I usually give you something else to distract you. 

Your confidence is growing around other people and you seem to have totally overcome stranger anxiety now which is great. People are now able to see the Noah we know and love and get to enjoy you like we do. 



Size
I'm a bad Mum. I really need to get you weighed. You are now wearing 6-9m in everything but I am finding that some of the smaller sizes babygrows are already starting to get a little snug on the legs and feet. But that just seems to be in the Next babygrows. Everything else is fine. You have long legs and arms and a skinny little body. Considering how much you eat I am surprised you aren't a bit chunkier. 



Health
Well you had another good month until this morning! This morning you turned 7 months old and you woke up with your first cold. You have a runny nose, are sneezing and a little cough. You are currently napping in the travel cot beside me as I type this up. You had a bad night sleep last night with it and considering the lack of sleep and the cold you have been in a good mood. You aren't your usual cheeky self. We are still getting smiles but you just want to be cuddled and want to take it easy. Hoping you won't begin to feel worse and that this is as bad as you will feel. I don't like to see you under the weather but I am enjoying these extra snuggles. 



Feeding
You love your food and are yet to discover something you don't like the taste of. You now have three meals a day; breakfast, lunch, dinner. Usually porridge and fruit for breakfast, a veg meal and a fruit dessert for lunch, then a meat meal and pudding for dinner. At the mintue we are living with the in laws while our house is being renovated so we have been relying on baby food jars as we aren't cooking. You have the stage 2/ from 7 months jars and pouches and enjoy the different textures. Once we are in our new house you will be eating what we eat and mainly eating home cooked foods again. 

I have introduced fingers foods too and you do brilliantly with them. Your favourites are; toast, crumpets, strawberries, wafer biscuits and biscotti. Again once we are in the new house I want to give you lots more choice and variety when it comes to finger foods too. At the moment everything is convenience but I do get lots of fresh fruit and veg into you. 

Seeing as you are such a foodie you don't really bother with your milk anymore and we really need to make you drink it. You currently have 4x 5oz or 3x 5oz a day. I like giving you porridge in the morning as I make it with your milk and it's a good way of getting more milk into you. 

You now also drink cooled boiled water or very weak juice with your meals as we were having issues with constipation as you eat that much! You drink about 5oz of water/juice a day. 



Sleep
As I have already said we are currently living with your Grandparents whilst our new house is being renovated. I think as you are now sleeping in a new room, in a new place that is has interfered with your sleep a little. You are still sleeping well but the room gets really hot and bright in the morning which tends to wake you up. I can't open the window either as it's a busy road and that would wake you too. That being said you are still sleeping around 10 hours but seem to wake a lot more frequently. Nap wise you have been great! I think the noise of the traffic soothes you at nap time as you have never napped so well! 



Milestones

- Sitting. You are pretty much sitting up totally unaided now. I still wouldn't leave you alone whilst doing so as you can get a bit lazy when you are tired. I'm so proud of you. 

- Confidence. Again your cofidence with other people has grown so much this month. Although you can have your shy moments and can still cry if a stranger takes you from me and is a bit full on with you. 

- Vocal. You have always been a very chatty baby but this month you have discovered your consonants. You now babble away with gaga, rara, dada, baba, yaya. You haven't said a word purposely yet though so we are still holding out for your first word. 

- Coordination and movement. Where as before you could only grab items at arms length you are now able to move your body to reach across for things. Now items that I think should be out of reach are easily picked up, nothing is safe! I've also seen you grab your dummy or a toy with your feet to drag it up to your hands! Little monkey boy!


- Food, As I have previously said you now eat lumpy baby foods and can eat various finger foods. You love to feed yourself. 

- Playing. You now enjoy older toys that require a bit of concentration. I only need to show you something once and you remember how the toy works. You love to kick your toys around too whilst you are sat up. 

- Eating you feet. You have discovered that your toes taste really nice!



Things you like

- SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. You took a liking to spongebob back when you were only a few months old and would stare at the TV in awe. Well now you absolutely adore it. You will be watching it and I can see you enthralled. You smile at certain characters and laugh at different points. If you hear the theme tune or someone sings it to you (which we do a lot as you love it so much) you will get all excited and smile away. Yesterday I was singing it to you and when I got to the part that says "sea" you said "eeee". I thought it must be a fluke but kept singing it to you and you said it about 5 times in a row. So your first word might end up being sea! Ha ha.

- Kiki. You cannot go anywhere without your comforters which we nickname Kiki's. You play with them, snuggle them, bite them, suck them. I bought them in a two pack from TK Maxx when you was a newborn and they are the best baby item that I invested in. I just wish I bought some more of them because you are really partial to these two certain ones and if we lose them I don't know what we would do!

- Food. I've said it a dozen times but you are so good with your food. You have tried so much and we haven't discovered one food that you don't like. I just hope that you will be this much of a good eater when you get older.

- Singing. Although I have a terrible singing you voice you love it when I sing to you. A long with the spongebob theme tune your favourite song is "hush little baby" and one I improvised "How much is that Noah in the window? The one with the curly hair? How much is that Noah in the window? I do hope that Noah's for sale!"

- Nappies and Wipes. I don't know why I bother with toys. You get the most enjoyment out of throwing a nappy about!


Things you don't like

- Having something taken of you. You will now throw a wobbler if you don't want it taken from you!

- Bedtime. Since we have moved in with the inlaws while our house is being renovated you have decided that you no longer want to go to bed at 8pm (which is late enough) but will fight sleep until as late as 11pm. I think the change of routine is to blame. 

- Runny noses. We are currently experiencing our first cold and you have been handling it well despite the coughing fits. It really bothers you when I try to wipe your nose. 

 

So there we have it for another month! Lets hope this month goes by a little slower. The next time I write your update we should be settled in our new home. So exciting! 





6/10/2014

Review: Nonabox - May Edition

Thank you Nicola from Nicola Life Through My Eyes for supplying the image. I didn't have chance to take a picture before the drink was guzzled by my other half. 

These past few months Noah and I have been lucky enough to review a Nonabox each month. I love subscription boxes and Nonabox is high up there with my favourites. It is a must have for Mum's and Mum's to be. You can subscribe here

That being said I wasn't impressed with what was in my box this month. Each month Nonabox had been getting better and better but this month was a let down I'm afraid. There was some useful things in there but compared to the previous months it just didn't meet expectations. It almost seemed like something was missing and it has lost it's spark. 

Here is what was inside-

My Name Tags  £4
Shea Mooti 120ml £14.99
Mabyland Wipe Bag £3.99
Berry White Organic Drink £1.69
Aquaint Spray Antibacterial £2.80
Once Upon A Time Box Hat  £3
Once Upon A Time Box Bib £3

Total £33.47

As the box costs £25 a month you still get your money's worth but not by much. The Once upon a time goodies are nice for a newborn but other than those two items I don't find anything else very interesting or useful. Of course the antibacterial lotion will be handy but that's about it. 

Having one bad box doesn't put me off Nonabox though as their boxes are usually packed to the brim of interesting and exciting products. 

- I was sent this product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

6/09/2014

Five Highlights of Northern Ireland


Gone are the days when Northern Ireland was at the nucleus of troubles and conflict. This beautiful country has recovered from much of the turbulence and now it’s their turn to shine. From its cosmopolitan capital that oozes culture and vibrancy and the walled city of Derry where museums help to give visitors insight into ‘the troubles’, to the stunning landscapes of the surrounding counties, Northern Ireland has something for everyone. Take a look at these five highlights and start planning your break so that you can experience it for yourself.

Belfast
Book into one of the affordable Travelodge hotels and spend a day or two exploring this vibrant capital. Birthplace of Titanic, Belfast is home to a number of sights and attractions which will keep you busy, including the Titanic Belfast museum, plenty of Victorian architecture to ogle and top notch shopping, dining and entertaining experiences.

Derry
The 17th century walls that are home to 24 restored cannon are a must for anyone visiting this historic city. It’s also home to the award-winning Tower museum, which helps visitors to truly understand past conflicts.

Giant’s Causeway
If legend is correct, Irish giant – Finn MacCool – built the causeway from basalt columns to reach Scotland, so that he and his Scottish rival could meet. Whether you think this is true or not, it’s still a sight to behold, and is now a World Heritage Site and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Join the Causeway Coastal Route for a chance to see this, and many other stunning parts of the Northern Irish landscape.

Mountains of Mourne
These glorious mountains are said to have helped inspire CS Lewis when he was writing The Chronicles of Narnia. Understandably so! If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, this is a great place to start.

The Marble Arch Caves
If you’re looking for something a little different, head to County Fermanagh, where you’ll find the Marble Arch Caves. Join the boat tour, before continuing on foot, through a rabbit warren of underground grottoes, past waterfalls, rivers and stalagmites aplenty.

These five attractions don’t even scrape the surface when it comes to Northern Ireland – plan your visit and see what else you can find to fill your unforgettable itinerary. 

Photo courtesy of Panoramio. 
This is a PR collaberation.

6/08/2014

Our home: The living room


We recently bought of very first home and are currently undertaking a full house renovation. It's such an exciting yet stressful time. As so much needed doing we just got stuck into everything. There was no time to do a room at a time we just needed to leap into it head first. We have a long list of jobs to do and every time we complete one job another couple are discovered and added to it.

Today I thought I would write all about the progress with our living room. For some reason I don't seem to appear to have any "before" photo's on hand just images from when we began. I have some somewhere though. 

The room was decorated with wood chip and painted yellow to begin with and it wasn't that bad. But as we are going to be redecorating every room we decided to do it anyway. 


Some area's the wood chip came off really easy but in some places it was really tough. It took us a good two days to get it all off. When we were stripping wallpaper off in different parts of the house we discovered bad walls underneath (cracks, holes, uneven plastering etc) but thankfully the living room walls were in an ok condition. One thing I have learnt is that with an old house you have to expect bad walls amongst other things. Still give me an old house over a new any day!


After we had tidied up I used sugar water to clean all the woodwork and fireplace. We have original wood features and coving which I love, it gives the house real character. I then sanded all the skirting boards and window ready for painting at a further date. Nick's Grandad then papered the entire room with lining paper, also ready for painting! 


We decided to paint the front room in Natural Hessian from Dulux. It was a shade we kept going back to as it was neutral and light but warm too. It will also look good against any colour so we could frequently change the colour accents in the room without having to redecorate the whole room again. 



We chose to paint the ceiling Natural Hessian too so the coving would really stand out as they were painted white. All the woodwork was sanded, painted with an undercoat and then glossed.


We had the radiator and new electrical sockets installed while we were painting the room. Once everything was dried we then went out looking at carpet. I wanted a neutral carpet that was light enough to compliment the wallpaper but was practical too. I would of loved to of gone for a nice cream carpet but that isn't feasable with a baby and three cats. We opted for a light sandy colour and I think it's perfect.


I am so happy with the living room because although the rest of the house is a shambles this room is almost complete and exactly how I wanted it. We just need a piece of skirting board and need to remove the old sockets and then we are done. I intend on having cabinets in the alcoves with floating shelves above them. Nick wants to put the TV on the wall too which frightens me but we are limited with space in the front room so we will have to do so. 


Now that one room looks finished it makes me so excited to see how the rest of the house is going to turn out. We have a long road ahead of us but we have certainly made a good start.