Sunday, 24 February 2013

Save, Recycle and Repurpose

Save, Recycle and Re-purpose 

Our extension is not, as you may imagine, the cheapest undertaking in the world, and, as with all building work, the cost is never going to stay what it says on the quotation!!  So, in an effort to save pennies we have been looking into the worlds of secondhand and upcycling.  We have taken stock of our current furniture and worked out what can be reused somewhere else, perhaps with some creative painting or a bit of sanding.  We have chests of drawers being swapped from one room to another.  A kitchen unit (which was bought secondhand for the kitchen!) being converted to a sink unit in the bathroom, along with a large kitchen dresser which came from my parents coffee shop!  

We have kitted out the bathroom completely with shuffled furniture and reusing the old suite, bar the sink, that will need to be new, or at least new to us!  The spare room is done thanks to some shuffling of furniture and a donation bed from my parents who are having a change!  The family room has much of its furniture, moved from elsewhere in the house!  Things are looking good!

One thing we couldn't repurpose from elsewhere in the house was a sofa for the family room.  We have a suite but it is staying in the old lounge to make seating for the library-come-sitting-room- come-sewing-office-room!  We knew what we wanted; colour scheme in the brown area, corner sofa, good lounge-about-ability!  We looked all over the place at new sofas, thinking that that was the easiest way to get exactly what we were after, even if it did go against our save, recycle and repurpose philosophy.  But we weren't without hope for a miracle so kept our eye on the Small Ads.  And would you believe it... we found the perfect thing!  A tiny fraction of the cost of a brand new one, 2 years old but in great condition (not sure these people spent much time sitting down!), corner sofa, right colour and!.. just 15 minutes away from our house!  We hitched up the trailer.....

The thing is huge, 9ft on the longest side (which adds to the miracle as this was exactly the size we'd been catering for!) and the seats are deep, great for lazy afternoons, just what we were after.  It did however, completely fill our trailer, thank goodness there was no more of it, and the cushions stuffed the back of the car!

This is a photo, not the best light but gives you an idea. (This isn't our house by the way, this is where it came from).

We have been very much enjoying the chase of getting our furniture and not having to pay through the nose for it!  Hunting down exactly what we want and then fitting it into our home!

I'll do more updates on each of the furniture transformations as they occur.  There will be more house renovation updates this week, it is coming along very quickly!!


Monday, 18 February 2013

Down Go the Floors

They dug out all the floors to get everything to the correct level. Then it has been a case of building them back up. End of last week and beginning of this week have been the laying of the concrete, among other things, for the new floors.

It's been a tight squeeze getting the concrete lorry in and around the corners. Some of the concrete has been wheelbarrowed in, hence the plastic floor coverings in the photo, trying to contain some of the mess!

Getting the floors down, and with the roof looking more like a roof, it is really getting easier to see what the finished house is going to look like.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Going A Little More Self Sufficient Every Day

(Don't know if this post needs a disclaimer or something, weak dispositions beware!)

Self sufficiency has always been my dream.  Some things are out of reach at present; I don't think we are going off grid any time soon!  But the whole food thing is something, in which, I can see we can make a difference in our lifestyles.  We can grow what we need, or at least start with enough to supplement and slowly progress to having a larder stocked through our own hard graft.  And, until today, vegetables and fruit have made up that pantry filling effort...

Today however, was different.  

Today we stepped into a new realm.  

Today we went were we had only speculated that we would like to go but had always found some excuse not to.  Excuses coming mainly from a little bit of fear, mixed with uncertainty, mixed with a tiny sprinkling of good ol' fashioned squimishness.  

Today we delved into meat!

We have in our flock of hens, 5, yes, count 'em, 5 cockerels.  One is the original, bought to allow us to have chicks and perpetuate our flock.  Two came from the inevitability of percentage cockerel to hen in any clutch of eggs.  And two arrived as a gift, three babies given and we managed only one hen!  Our cockerel numbers are all well and good when they are youngsters but as they grow a decision has to be made as to what to do with them.  We were lucky, even though two were now pretty much the size of their dad, he was tolerating them without too much fighting.  He'd give them a hard stare and they'd wander off.  But they'd still have to go, if nothing else they eat like gannets and of course you get nothing back.

We had basically three choices: sell or give them away, kill and dispose or eat them.  Selling and giving away are easier said than done, no one wants cockerels.  Even at auction you get around £3 - £4 per bird which is negligible to the amount you've spent feeding them, and, to be honest, the feeling is, the people buying them are just going to eat them, so you've paid to raise someone else's dinner and they've given you next to nothing for it!

Straight killing seemed a little wasteful and disrespectful to the bird, so we went for kill to eat.  A tricky concept to get your head round.  Although I eat meat, I know where it comes from, I know what is involved in getting it there is still something inherently 'oh dear' about choosing to do it yourself, to your own bird.  The first step is always the hardest.   But I wanted to be there for every step, I wanted to see what was done.

We didn't know the techniques at all.  We wanted it to be quick, without fuss and without undue stress to the bird, so Farm Guy's dad was called in, a veteran in poultry dispatch, he showed us the best way to do every step.   The two oldest youngsters were chosen and the whole thing went very smoothly.   The whole process was a lot simpler than I had imagined and I think it is something that we will now continue to do.  Our two boys are now in the freezer and will be much appreciated.

I think there is something to be said for killing and preparing your own meat.  As I have stated before I am an animal lover but also a meat eater, I believe the two can go hand in hand, but I also feel that there is a tendency for people (myself included) to become separated from the reality of eating meat.  We all KNOW what is going on, but we don't connect with the actual act.  This whole experience was good for me, a reconnection with the whole food chain cycle.  A greater respect for what is going on with the food we eat, and that it doesn't just come pre-packaged and shrink wrapped!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

What's Going on in the Kitchen?

My new kitchen.... Ahhhh! I have been dreaming about it since we moved in... Since before then! And the one thing that I wanted in it was an Aga, always, no matter how I pictured the kitchen, there was the aga, centre stage!

I grew up with an Aga, my mum still has it! It is one of my biggest memories of home. And to me it symbolises the total heart of the home, let alone the kitchen. So Aga it was. We are on oil here, so oil would have to be our fuel for it. We began investigating.

It soon became apparent that although an oil Aga was within our purchase budget range, the week to week cost of running one would mean we'd probably end up never being able to turn the thing on! Not the best. An Electric Aga had the best running costs of all the Agas but its initial purchase price was out of budget, and even if they weren't they only offered the cheap running ones in extra small, which was not what I was after. Poop.

I was determined, however, that my stove dreams would not become nightmares. I researched all the Aga style stoves available. I knew I wanted big and I knew I wanted cheap to run and I had an initial budget in mind.

My travels brought me to a new company called Everhot, who have been making waves in the Electric 'Aga' world. The running costs were extremely low, they offered a huge range of sizes and oven configurations and the purchase price was reasonable. We found our local stockist, who happened to sell loads of different makes of stoves, which was good as it gave us a chance to look at a range of ranges!!

I loved the Everhot, it was just what we needed. We took a week to discuss, decide and order! It arrives the beginning of May! Cannot Wait!!!!

Here's a sneaky peak.....

Monday, 4 February 2013

Week Two.. Three.. and Four!

So, once again another ridiculous length of time between posts! What's been happening? Well, the place looks worse than when we started! The whole roof had to come off, and I mean the WHOLE roof! We knew this would be the case but its still something when it actually happens!!

Once the roof was removed a whole load of internal walls needed to be taken out. This then allowed the floor levels to be determined. This is where we hit an issue. It was found that the floor level needed to be lowered a lot more than was previously thought. So, on average, two feet of soil needs to be dug out before the floor can be put back in again!

The piles of rubble are the floor. Throughout the barns the floor was concrete which needed to be lifted, the uncertainty of the thickness was what caused the 'oh we need to take out two feet' issue!

It's so hard to describe everything to give you a feel for it, from just these photos. The ones with those stall walls is the family room. The photo here ---> is possibly the best to show what is really being done. You can see the corridor on the right (notice the tiny bit of visible green wall? Remember that!) you can also see the fact that the back wall of this stall room has a room beyond, that will be the kitchen, all the walls are coming out. A double archway will replace that dividing wall there! Not sure that makes sense, ill have to make a floor plan.

These two pictures above show both the walls being taken out inside and how far the floor has dropped. In the first picture you can see the existing corridor and then in the lower picture you can see the remaining bit of painted green wall once the corridor wall is taken down. You can also see how much has been dug out.

The one above is taken from one end of the family room looking into what will be the kitchen, through an archway. Going to the right, from the kitchen, around the corner, will be the new raised dining room.

Above: Looking I through the new 'front' door hole. The window at the back will be the window of the smaller spare room.

Finally after two or so weeks of demolition things start looking better, the roof trusses arrive and they start being put in place. The roof that is shown having been done is over the (from left round) the family room, kitchen and dining room! The very last photo is the family room from inside the kitchen, you can see the hole that will lead to the corridor going to the two spare rooms, bathroom and cinema room.