Shabby Blog

Friday, 30 December 2011

Baby brewing 95%

For the duration of my pregnancy I've been reading various baby blogs which help me feel connected and calm about each stage of pregnancy.

I've particularly enjoyed Monkey & Squirrel's weekly bean updates.
So, as a homage to her I thought I'd finally do a STATS update (better late than never!?)



  • HOW FAR ALONG- 36 weeks 2 days. 9 months.
  • SIZE OF BABY- Aprox 47.4 cm & 5.78 lbs 
  • MATERNITY CLOTHES?- I've found GAP clothes tend to be long in the torso so I'm still getting away with a few t-shirts and jumpers but I have found that I'm already growing out of some of my maternity clothes. That said, I can still fit into some of my jeans as I'm carrying high so you win some you loose some!
  • SLEEP?- Well, I've currently been awake from 2am (it's now 4.12am) But the crazy sleeping and waking times come and go depending on the day. 
  • FEELING ANY MOVEMENTS?- I'm still feeling very strong movements, whole hands, feet elbows and what I assume are knees protrude regularly. 
  • ANY CRAVINGS?- I continue to eat my way through the UK's chocolate supply but I've not had such strong urges for the last month. 
  • ANY FOOD AVERSIONS?- I'm still off olives and I'm beginning to hate chilli because it gives much such terrible heartburn 
  • VISIBLE BUMP?- Very visible and ever increasing. 
  • BELLY BUTTON. IN OR OUT?- It's still 'in' but visible to others as it stretches further. 
  • STILL WEARING RINGS?- Yes, but after my bath yesterday I did wonder if I would be able to get them off! 
  • BEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK- This week still includes Christmas, so cooking for Neil's parents and grandpa at our house and amazingly having the energy to keep them entertained was lovely. I should add that Neil did the cooking not me, credit where credit is due. (It was lovely)
  • WORST MOMENT OF THE WEEK- I have to admit I have become even more unreasonable this week and really do seem to expect Neil to be a mind reader. In hindsight want him to know what I want and respond to my every beck and call before I even ask. On reflection this is clear to me, at the time I'm too busy moaning to notice... 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

So much to catch up on

Goodness there will be a few belated posts to come.  In short: an update on our bathroom, the nursery, our wonderful holiday to the Wye Valley and last but by no means least, Christmas (Our first at Chez Clubride)

Wedding Photo courtesy of Danielle Benbow
However, the big news of the moment is that tomorrow is my last day at work.  1 more day of taking the train into the City and walking amongst the suits and feeling like I'm part of the hustle and bussle.  To be honest, day by day its becoming less like walking and more like waddling.  Every day is different and a different challenge is presented to me by my pregnant body.  The last month has, true to form, been the month of growth where I've gone from feeling fine and dandy to laden and ever expanding.

Judging by today my brain is ready for a rest as well as my body as I stare blankly at my computer screen wondering what on earth I was looking for.  I'm currently running through a handover for my replacement and it feels rather odd to be passing over things for her to do that I'd normally be doing myself.  I feel quite lazy if I'm honest asking for her to do these things, but I am appreciating the reduction in my walks to the filing cabinets and to collect stuff from the printer!

The thought of a relaxing break from the 9 to 5 today has my mind racing to the finishing line.  1 more day I'm thinking as I press my key fob to the entrance at work.  Thoughts of lying on the sofa and tidying the house make me feel more and more relaxed and I feel like I'm being hugged just by the thought of the peace.  But equally, I'm not sure I can really believe that after that moment I might never see or hear from the work colleagues I speak to every day.

34  + 2 days
So goodbye work and hello parenthood, I'm looking forward to the unknown challenges and the joy that being a mum will bring.  Neil and I always used to talk about how we would raise a child and now we get the chance to actually do it.  I know at times it will be hell when I am sleep deprived and feeling helpless but I also can't wait to hold our son in my arms and love and protect him for the rest of his life.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Sale Preview

I just thought I'd have a quick browse on the John Lewis sneak preview sale sight and what a mistake that was.  I've fallen in love with these chairs...

John Lewis Flore Chair  £75 - £49

They'd really make our dining room table which I hasten to add is now in our dining room ready for our first ever Christmas at our home.  Neil's desk is currently relocated and we have become quite quickly attached to the idea of a formal dining room.  We shall see how convincing Neil to get rid of his desk works out, it will very much depend on finding somewhere else to store all our bits.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Baby basics

We had our third and final antenatal session last night. I'm sad its over but also feel i have had all my questions answered.  Each session over ran massively but the facilitator made sure that we had asked everything we wanted to.

I was shocked to discover i was like everyone else, terrified, unprepared and totally clueless. I now feel like we will be able to cope and most importantly that i now know what the signs of active labour are.
The weeks have gone by so fast for us.  Last week we had our 32 week scan. I had yet more blood taken and all appears fine. We couldn't see a full profile or body as its getting a bit full in there but i was pleased to see he's head down and apparently likely to stay. All his measurements are within the expected ranges and they even took a picture of his nose and mouth for us to have. I honestly can't fault the scan people at kings. They explain everything in full and happily answer questions. (Even explaining complicated ratios to Neil).
But the best bit had to be seeing him stick out his tongue and purposefully kick the Dr. She said she didn't like him after that!

We are so excited to meet our baby boy and can't wait for him to see our biggest nursery splurge.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Bathroom's at 50%

Yet again it has been too long, yet things have been chugging along nicely.

Since my last bathroom update we have tided up but we're still in the in-between stages.  After Neils parents left on the Sunday (weeks ago now) we were left with a fully functioning bathroom but with a long list of finishing touches to be done.  

Here's a breakdown so we can cross them off one by one.

  • Fill in holes in wall left by tiles, screws, nails and bad plastering. (Sunday 13th November)
  • Make good bumpy walls
  • Choose paint colours (Saturday 5th November)
  • Test paint colours next to tiles/coving etc. (Sunday 20th November) 
  • Clean and repaint bath
  • Tile remaining walls
  • Stick and paint skirting board
  • Finish cutting and sticking down flooring
  • Wipe down and paint all walls, (decide which colour goes where)
  • Find and hang bathroom mirror
  • Find bathroom cabinet and arrange delivery
  • Choose bathroom fittings
The bad news for today is that although we love the white we have chosen for the bathroom (that sounds mad to me, how can there be a good or bad white but I am convinced).

Oyster by Wickes

Our bargain blue paint from Homebase just doesn't look dramatic enough to really make the room and it should.  I think it should be bold and grand to suit the rest of the suite.  So it's goodbye mountain rain (which is no longer on their website) - it looked a bit like this...

So we were thinking of going for something a bit more like this instead...

Hague Blue @ Farrow and Ball

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Bathroom skirtingboard

Yes, it is 5.54 and i am oh so awake in my sofa bed considering whether yesterdays skirtingboard painting in dry! Its all sooo exciting eh.

We bought all new skirting for the room (twice) but when we came to take it off it would not budge! (With the added problem that in some parts there was nothing behind it and it seemed to be holding up the walls...)

So old skirting it is, and what an excellent job the previous occupies did.

So, after a quick hoover and wipe i made a start as we're hoping to lay down the new floor tomorrow *happy dance*

So ta da! 'new' and improved skirting.

And here's what the rest of the house has decended into!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Bathroom DIY begins

After all the endless chatter of bathroom rennovation I am astonished to announce that operation re-do has oficially commenced.  A very brave and dedicated Neil has been working alone over half term to clear it out before his parents arrived today.

Here we have stage 1, tiles removed from around the bath and toilet and majority of flooring removed.  On the right you can see the pedistal for our new sink!

Tiles behind the bath removed

Gemma getting in on the action!
And then day 2 commenced where Neil removed more of the grout from the wall and smashed up the bath ready for its collection this morning.

My biggest irritation so far is that we didnt really take any proper 'before' photos and I'm worried that its going to be easy for us to forget how it looked before and therefore wont allow us to truly appreciate what an acheivement it will be once it's done.

However, going from an ill fitting dark wood floor to a posh waterproof vinyl floor with freshly painted walls and a gorgeous bath and sink should be enough to make us realise the distance we have traveled so to speak.

There have been a number of last minute alterations, including us having to pick out some tiles at 10.30 last night with the realisation that throwing more tiles over the mess that is now on the walls was a quicker alternative to preparing them ready to paint.  So in the end we went for these, which we picked up at 7.30am this morning.

Bevelled Edge Ceramic Wall Tile @ Wickes £9.59 per Sqm

We also got some of the black line tiles to try and add a bit of detail but I'll see what I think of those tonight when I get home!  The next thing to choose is the grout. I think they'd look nice with a dark grey. But we shall see...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Newborn baby boy wardrobe

We went out shopping today, running lots and lots of errands ready for our bathroom re-do this week; but I still managed to drop by Next to have a look at baby boy bits and pieces.  So with that in mind I thought I would put together a collection of my favourite baby boy bits. Next have some lovely bits but their website doesn't allow me to show them to you all :( You'll have to cope with some other high street finds instead!
Jumper £7 @ Asda
Duffle Coat @ Tesco

Jumpsuit @ Tesco 
Jumper @ H&M
Cardigan @ H&M
Knitted 1 piece @ GAP

Friday, 7 October 2011

I feel so close to you right now!

This is me today, oh boy I feel on top of the world!

There has been this HUGE list of things to do for oh so long and finally I think I can confidently say we are getting to the end of it, or at least getting through it!

Life is made up of lots of small achievements like getting the washing on while you text a friend and hoover the lounge. Multitasking at it's best I like to think!

Anyway here is my list of achievements from the last few days and a few choice pictures to celebrate.
  • Pick & Order bathroom floor - We used the final bit of cash we got for our wedding to purchase the floor, 3 packs of this beautiful vinyl floor (manufactured by Polyflor in the UK) The sample is gorgeous. (I'll report later on how easy it is to lay.) I originally wanted to pay £10 SqM but this has worked out at around £15 which I am stonkingly impressed with seeing as, in my opinion, it's the same quality as my original dream floor (Harvey Maria).
  • Find and buy bathroom light - This has been one seriously EPIC battle to actually decide on something, I was debating posting a few of the ones we *almost* went for but I don't want no disagreement so this is what we FINALLY went for.
Ok, tiny I know, M&S arent keen on letting me show you the full thing - it's here 
I originally wanted to get a chandelier but I haven't really found one (anywhere in my price range) that really floated my boat. And although I was trying to ignore the issue, all the taps in our bathroom are brass so anything really modern is not going to look great! I'm hoping this will give our room a classy yet perhaps a little industrial feel which will be contrasted with some coloured accessories.  BTW the lights £28 in the sale (Huzzah) and free for us as we purchased it with some wedding gift vouchers. 
  • BOILER repair - OK, this isn't totally solved but we have moved 90% towards the finishing line, I've booked a repair man to come round on Monday at 7.30am.
  • Choose and order nursery stencil - Done and done! Many thanks to groupon, it's the first voucher I've bought. So I got the stencil for £9.99.  Will look gorgeous over our little mans cot me thinks :)

Tree & Swing Wall Decal 

Big love, now back to the cleaning!  Did I mention we're off for the weekend with Neil's family who have booked a lovely murder mystery weekend away for us.  Cannot wait to see them and show off my ever increasing baby boy bump.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

DIY King and Queen

Well, good evening and happy weekend!  I barely know where to start to describe the mind numbing amount of work we have been able to get done this weekend. And now, 2 major things down on our list of things to do before the baby arrives. Yipeee

So, the major thing to get done this weekend was our poor flat roof extension repair.  When we first bought the house we were told it needed to be repaired in the survey of the property but alas it wasn't an 'essential' (comes well below house insurance that's for sure.)  We were given a quote of near £500 to have it re-felted and it has obviously since then (a year has passed) deteriorated some more.  So let's just say by yesterday it was looking like this:

And here's what we uncovered once we returned from Wickes with the new wood for the edges.

The photo just above was actually taken this morning around 9am but it shows the thoroughly rotten floorboard that we found in the middle. EEEK! But Neil was fully prepared to head off to Wickes last night at 7.30pm to pick up a final plank so we could do a proper repair.

Here he is working late last night whilst I pottered around with the lawn mower.  
I have to admit it has been somewhat interesting listening to him banging around up there with me banished to the ground due to pregnancy related risks associated with climbing big ladders.  Although I should point out that as I was leaning on our garden table taking measurements yesterday I managed to completely break the table and fell on bum! (I swear I am not a pregnant wale!!!) So really even a metre off the ground is dangerous enough for me.

Now whilst Neil was sizing up our roof repair I got to finally take a wire brush to our back garden wall.  We are in the strange position of being completely surrounded by walls but yet also living in an open area surround by acres of grassland. But I think it's clear to say that peeling paint across the whole of the back of the garden is a good look for no-one!

So after a quick wire brush of all the peeling paint I took to my tools!

We first saw this purple paint about a month ago and both really loved it and finally took the plunge yesterday.  I have to admit as painted the first bit I was somewhat alarmed by the colour as it's the first thing that hits you as soon as you open the back door.  But as I continued it really changed the garden from looking a bit neglected to looking like we were trying to make it look nice.

There's obviously still plenty to do in terms of the actual planting of the garden but here we have a nice shot of colour.

And the finished rooftop taken from the nursery window, look at those neat and dry corners.  And with that all finished by lunch time we headed to the tip with the broken garden table and old roof felt before heading to our local pub for roast dinner. 

(Hard working toes, yuck)

Lovely grub! (And now back to Downton Abbey)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Delicious Toffee Apple Muffins (Perfect for breakfast)

I have invented one of my first ever baking recipes, I normally don't trust myself to alter the wet and dry ingredients for fear of failure.  However I am pleased to report it's not as scary as first thought and these muffins are DELICIOUS!

For the cake mix:

  • 110g butter
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 handful of chopped walnuts
  • 1 handful of oats
  • 2 x eggs, beaten
  • light sprinkling of cinnamon

For the apple:

  • 30g butter
  • 30g soft brown sugar
  • 0.5 x lemon, juice only
  • 2 x eating apples 1 x bramley apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
I always make the apple first, I'm not really sure why!

  • Heat the butter in a medium non-stick, oven-proof frying pan, over a medium heat
  • When the butter begins to melt, add the sugar, and allow to begin to caramelise, then add the lemon juice
  • Add the quartered apple wedges to the pan, tossing well, to thoroughly coat them in the caramel, and continue heating through for 4-5 minutes then take off the heat and leave for later.
Putting together the cake mix -
  • Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the flour and baking powder, mixing well, as you do
  • Gradually add the beaten eggs and then stir in the walnuts and oats
  • Gently fold in the apple mixture
  • Half fill 12 muffin cases with mixture
  • Top with a sprinkling of brown sugar, cinnamon, oats and chopped walnuts
  • Bake in the oven for around 13minutes.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Boiler trouble and bathroom ideas.

The house clear out continues, although life has been made somewhat more difficult by the final death knell of the boiler.  It broke last Saturday morning, we were hoping that it was just something minor but the repair man we called said it amounted to £350 worth ish of damage.  After we got the quote we knew we'd need to get some other quotes and to think about where on earth we would get the money from to pay for it.  Since then we haven't had a chance to organise anything so we've been without hot water for over a week now! It has been surprisingly easy to cope.  The most annoying this has been the lack of a dishwasher and having to boil the kettle and do it all in the sink!  And whilst I do the washing up Neil has been on bath duty, filling all the pots in the pans with water, boiling it on the stove and then taking it upstairs.  We'll be interested to see if this has any effect on our gas bill over the next few weeks.  We will have to get it fixed soon as winter will be here before we know it but the silver lining is that this didn't happen when we had a new born baby to deal with.

Of course our new bathroom will be with us by Christmas, and when I say with us, I mean installed, as it's already here just currently scattered all over the house!  Neil's parents have asked us to have a proper think about what needs to be done so we can get everything prepared in advance.

I think we'll have to use the cash we had saved for the finishing touches in the bathroom on the boiler situation so the only thing that really *needs* to be bought is the flooring.  I want to check the measurements again but I think we will need just under 10m2 for the whole floor.  We were thinking either very simple tiles in black and white or vinyl of the same theme.  I've seen some bits and pieces on Ebay now that we could cover with the final vouchers we received as wedding presents.  I think the vinyl in total will work out cheapest as it needs less extras like grout, spacers and of course as far as I'm aware vinyl doesn't take hours to set!

In other news we did purchase our luxury toilet seat!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Baby Bargain!

Hooray, I can now tick off one of our 'to buy' items from the baby list and something we knew we'd have to buy rather than pick up off friends!

And naturally it was an ebay bargain @ £16.  And completely by chance it is being posted from the Village in Norfolk I used to live in! I paid for it today and cannot wait for it to arrive. YAY

Quiche numero uno

Today I decided to give quiche a go. I was inspired predominantly by Episode 2 of The Great British Bake Off where I drooled over a number of unusual quiche concoctions.

So, in a fit of enthusiasm I headed to the kitchen to prepare quiche for our lunch. Here's the concoction I came across in the fridge which made it's way in to the mix.

So first for the crust: (Taken from here)

  • 125g/4oz plain flour 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 55g salted butter, cubed 
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water 
  1. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubed butter. 
  2. Rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter remaining. 
  3. Using a knife, stir in the cold water until the mixtures comes together as dough. 
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 10-15 minutes before using. (I didn't bother but you know if you have the time!) 
  5. Once ready roll out thinly into your chosen quiche dish and blind bake for 10minutes in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
And now for the filling:
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small red onions thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove finely diced
  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 3 broccoli florets sliced
  • 3 pork sausages skinned
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100ml of milk
  • A large handful of cheddar cheese grated
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 tbs of plain flour
1. Sauté the onion, garlic and mushroom in the olive oil until soft and remove from the pan

2. Add the skinned sausages to the empty pan and break up into small pieces as it cooks until browned

3. Whisk the milk and eggs together and add salt and pepper to season

4. Next add the grated cheddar, flour and cooked ingredients to the milk and egg mixture.

5. Once mixed add to the blind baked pastry case and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 35minutes or until golder brown.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Nursery Painting: Day 1

Yesterday I was called by the agency I work for and asked if I would like to be put forward for a job working in HR part time for the next 3 months.  With the interview tomorrow and the job possibly starting on Tuesday I thought I should make the most of today.  I'm an impatient thing anyway so the massive tin of yellow paint was just too much to keep my mitts off.

The unfortunate thing is that Neil is still working on his Thesis and there is A LOT of furniture in the Nursery so I was limited to a small corner near the door but nevertheless I have achieved 2 coats of yellow paint.  It's probably for the best that I wasn't able to go crazy with the paint fumes anyway.  But I do feel the urge to test out which of our greys will go best with it.  I think the lighter one but Neil thinks the dark will be better.

So here's what the end result should look like in the end.

And this is the first corner, the one by the door on the picture. (Again this is not a true reflection of the true shade)

Neil thinks the story of the colour is a bit like this -


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