radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
Where did the time go?

We're still pretty whacked out after the extension. Snag list is outstanding, but it's essentially done. We live here now, and every day it feels less and less likely that the real owners are going to come back and evict us. Most of the boxes are even unpacked.

Our main object at the moment is to juggle the cashflow so that we squeak unscathed from payday to billpay, slaloming between our creditors like an Olympic athlete. Fun times. [We'll be fine. But it's a little hairy this month and next.]

To that end, we're penny-pinching. (Or cent-cinching, which is the same but in euros.) Problem is, we trimmed out a lot of the fat a few years ago, and it's tough enough to see where we can trim any further.

Things I'm perfectly happy to do, off the very top of my head:
  • Go back to washing my hair in bicarb and vinegar (reasonably effective, as I recall from 2006).

  • Shop more often in Lidl.

  • Find out which of our staple meals are actually cheapest and dearest, and plan accordingly.

  • Keep a hawklike eye on expenditure, and stop spending on non-essentials when the allotted budgets are exhausted.

  • Work for pay every spare minute I get (which is not very many minutes, admittedly, but I have been doing a bit of paid work).

Things I'd strongly prefer to avoid:
  • Stop buying organic food.

  • Cut out paid childcare and house cleaning (they're such a relief).

I dunno. What are your favourite money-saving strategies? I'd really love some inspiration.
radegund: (Default)
Too much life going on over here recently to post about it much.

The extension is nearly finished. We're in that irritating final phase where everything's basically there and mostly functional, but there are still bits of wood and plasterboard and bags of cement piled up everywhere because there are people coming Any Day Now™ to finish off various bits.

Still, though. KITCHEN.

We're unpacking boxes and assembling cheap shelving and moving furniture around at a fierce rate. It remains astonishing how much dust is actually accommodated in a given space following such activities as this house has seen.

The garden is a wasteland of black hardcore. But we have plans. Well. I have unrealistic and grandiose plans, more suited to a garden six times the size. K has some very specific plans that I think she may believe I understand rather better than I do. Then there's what the builders can do for the budget.

I've become an extension bore - you know when you're really wrapped up in something, and you meet your friends and just brain-dump at them for what feels like ten hours, eyes wide, teeth bared, fingers splaying with the earnestness and the importance of it all ... except that what you're talking about is formica countertops and semi-solid flooring, which have taken on a wholly unwarranted significance in your tunnel-vision landscape? Well, that. Argh.

Today I remembered that I used to go into town, occasionally, Before. Perhaps I will again some day soon.

Oh, it's all going to be magnificent. But it isn't yet, and I'm very tired of it.
radegund: (Default)
Saturday: Varied )

Sunday: Simpler )

And now it's Monday, and our new windows and doors have arrived! Yay!

ETA: Ohhhhh, you wanted doors and windows that FIT? Well, you should've said.
radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
Ding dong, the kitchen's dead!

We got out last week - ran away to a hotel for three nights while the builders wrought their destructive magic on our house. Got back on Friday to find a gaping hole in the hall wall (not a surprise, I hasten to reassure you: we're doubling the width of the old kitchen door). Through it, this:

The whole house was neck-deep [OK, tiny exaggeration] in dust and rubble. I'd taped up all the internal doors with masking tape before we left - VERY glad I did that. Even now, four days later, everything I touch still turns my fingers grey. We have the fridge and the microwave hooked up in the hall, the kettle and toaster in the living room, food stacked in bags and boxes around our ankles. We have mice. Again.

But none of this really matters. That there, what you see above? That is basically it. Henceforth, it's all icing on the cake. That's the space. That's what we've been dreaming about for the past two years. And when it has fewer live cables dangling from the ceiling - indeed, when it has a ceiling - fewer heaps of nails and screws dotted about the floor - indeed, when it has a coherent floor - fewer raddled old kitchen units squatting dourly in the corner (and more new ones, obv, in the right places), fewer lumps of plaster in the sink, less plywood in the windows and more glass - when all that has been achieved, it'll be EVEN BETTER.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
A Good Thing about the extension works: The builders are lovely. Most of them don't speak much English (they're (all? not sure) from Romania), but they're courteous and helpful, they grin at the children, they show up early and leave late - and they don't try to talk me out of reusing materials (bricks, paving, slate), which alone sets them apart from every other builder I've dealt with. They are generally very can-do, in fact, which is refreshing.

A Bad Thing about the extension works: Fucking convenience food. I mean, M&S ready meals really aren't the worst - even when I'm restricted to what's microwaveable and dairy-free - but MY GOD I'll be glad to see the back of them. In case you overestimate the scale of my ordeal, I should point out that it's only this week that we've had to resort to them (some trifling demolition in the kitchen rendered it too dust-coated to use for a few days). Do you think I might be a bit of a foodie? The major internal demolitions are happening in the coming week; the boys and I will be decamping to a hotel for three nights.

An Amusing Thing* about the extension works: The foreman, who has excellent English, has clearly internalised the Irish Way in some respects. Talking about a section of wall where we might have a recessed shelf, he said, "We'll make it about five hun— about a foot-and-a-half by a foot." (He even dropped the t, just like a working-class Dubliner.) This despite the fact that I've been talking in millimetres all along, as have the Irish project manager, architect, and engineer. I suppose he's reading me as "Dublin housewife" (AHAHAHAHA ... wow - it's kind of true, though, isn't it?), for whom millimetres are clearly right out. Bless.

* Well, OK, amusing to language nerds.
radegund: (wine-pansy)
Ahahahaha. Slightly manic, here. It seems that until today we had experienced merely the antechamber of hell. We have now been admitted to ... well, not the inner circle, because we still have a vaguely functioning kitchen. Maybe the lobby.

Here in the (cramped and ill-appointed) lobby of hell, then, it is, principally, very, very dusty. Masonry dust, as you may know, is particularly filthy. It's not the good, clean dirt I'm used to - the mud, the crumbs, the fragments of leaf and twig that get tramped or strewn about the place as the kids do their inimitable thing, nor yet the soft, cobwebby fuzz you find gathering in corners when you don't clean your house (and we don't, much). No, masonry dust is stealthy. You walk into a room, and everything looks fine, but as soon as you touch anything - there you go, your fingertips are grey. It arrives in a haze you can taste, a cloud you can barely see except out of the corner of your eye. Your eye, I might add, which stings, just as your throat aches naggingly and your nasal excreta look as though you'd spent the day on the London Underground. Ugh.

Things the builders took away from us today:

* An amusing selection of the electrics in our kitchen - boiler and sockets (including fridge), but not oven or lights. Not sure what happened there, as the fault didn't set off a trip switch on the fuseboard. I rang the ringleader at about 19:00, and he sent around a henchperson, who very kindly and apologetically rigged up something to get us through the night. He'll look at it again tomorrow, he says.

* Use of the Oyster's room. In order to replace the old steel beam with a longer one that will support the extension roof (the new one is also much thicker: apparently the old one was risibly under-specified - eep!), it was necessary to drill two whacking great big holes in the wall under the Oyster's bedroom window, so that this whole section of the house could be propped while the beams were switched. The props were left in place this evening, as the free end of the beam has yet to be bolted to its colleague, so the holes remain unfilled, and there's a bit of a gale in there (besides the dustsheets, wet floor, and general filth). So O is happily asleep in his old cot in our bedroom.

[Aside - being a HUGE plus: the builders levelled out the floor, while they were at it. The ends of the joists rest on the new beam, and there was a discrepancy of about 20mm between one side of the room and the other. So they just hoiked the lower joists up a bit, and now they're all true. You used to be able to put a marble on one side of the floor and watch it roll down the slope - it'd be lovely if that were no longer the case.]

Things they will take away from us tomorrow:

* The kitchen window, which will be cannibalized for its beautiful granite lintel and cill (to be reused on the front façade of the extension), and thereafter boarded up to await the internal demolitions next week. And thus our doomed kitchen will be plunged, yea, even into utter darkness, evoking a symbolism that is by no means lost on me.

We will, needless to say, pass through this as through a cleansing wossname. But we're definitely moving into the hard part now. Internal demolitions will, let us say, exacerbate the dust issue somewhat. The boys and I will be decamping for a few nights next week. I may tape up the internal doors.

But! But but but! It's SO EXCITING to see the innards of my house like this. I may have seemed a trifle loopy this afternoon, prancing around and squeeing at the builders as they showed me the beam joint and the joists and all. I just really, really love this stuff. One of the best bits of this whole experience is that I'll live in the new space with the knowledge of exactly what went into it. The thought of that is like a highly polished bell of glee going bing! in my middle. If you see what I mean.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
1. The plumber got the boiler back up on its feet today. Can haz heating! Yay! Apparently it cut out because of an airlock, and it's not 100% better - he'll be back tomorrow to clean out the pump.

2. The Oyster does quality mondegreens: today he sang the chorus of "I'll tell Ma when I get home" as "Cheese handsome, cheese pretty, cheese the belle of Belfast city". I had to stifle my giggles. (He still plays hide-in-the-sink, although I suppose it's only a matter of time.)

3. Two frequent themes from our games at the moment:
    (1) the Oyster is an alien / monster / wild aminal who arrives in our house from his werreld. My role is to look beyond his aggressive facade and recognise that he wants to make friends. He then asks if he can stay with us, and I enthusiastically welcome him. He asks "So, do you like me so far?" quite a lot.
    (2) the Oyster is a superhero (more coping with non-omnipotence, I'm thinking). Yesterday he was Superhero John Murphy, who wore a big pink super-cape (OK, bath towel), and could run, jump, and fly. He asked, "So, are there any problems you'd like me to solve?" I said I wasn't too impressed with the current government, which prompted a long discussion about economic policy, voting, etc. John supports rich people sharing their money with poor people, and he's going to make a machine that will make money so that everyone can have as much as they want. Each rich person will give some money to a poor person that they know (we didn't ultimately resolve the issue of rich people who know no poor people and poor people who know no rich people). It's important to remember that if the government give all their money to the poor people, then they will be poor themselves. Taxes may help with this, although I'm not entirely sure that the concept was grasped. John will run for election. His posters will show a picture of him in his super-cape, with a slogan that makes it clear that he can fly. But he can't make people vote for him: they have to decide for themselves.

4. Huge roadside sign on the way to Castledermot, Co. Kildare:
Fed up renting? Own "YOUR HOME" from just €720 per month.
Gotta love those quotation marks!

5. The Feaster is talking a blue streak. Most of what he says isn't English, nor close to it, but he clearly knows exactly what he's saying. He addresses us solemnly, using syllables and intonation and everything, then waits for a response. It's KILLINGLY cute. (Actually, it's very like the language of Boo in Monsters, Inc.) English words we've positively identified include (in no particular order):

- there (deh)
- that (dah)
- there [he|she|it] is! (dehhh-iziz, often with a beautiful baby top-note on the first syllable)
- cow (a very rapid d-gw, possibly for "the cow" - haven't heard it in a good while)
- moo (bvvvvv)
- train (day or tay)
- Mama (mama)
- bread (debd)
- cracker (gah-goh)
- potato (duh-duh, just this evening)

He also uses annann to mean "food" or "food I want RIGHT NOW", and he has a word meaning "breastmilk" that I've yet to pin down. It's something like dez, I think.

He seems hugely amused at the whole language gig, which is delightful.
radegund: (Default)
I got back from rehearsal this evening (for our CONCERT on SATURDAY, which is going to be ACE, plug plug) to find that our gas boiler appears to have packed in. At least, when I tried to turn it on earlier there was a rather sickening little sound from its innards, as of something small and vital going clunk. And now there's no heat.

At least it's May (not that you'd know it from the driving drizzle outside). I hope we don't need to replace the boiler, because I'd much rather spend that money on nice tiles or a spiffy new hob or similar. Replacing the boiler is on the medium-term list - we want to get a high-efficiency one, for which there's now a grant - but if we have to do that straight away, we'll need to compromise on something else.

You know, people don't realise quite how pinchy diamond shoes can actually be.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
This morning we went to the Rare and Special Plant Fair in St Anne's Park, and saw many rare and special plants. Also, we ate rare and special felafel, watched a rare and special man weaving a cane chair (not that one), made a careful collection of rare and special sticks, and hurtled around chasing many rare and special dogs.

It was simultaneously brilliant (beautiful day, very warmfuzzy set-up - small fair, not at all overproduced) and frustrating (garden all dug up, can't buy plants, WOE). I got talking to a man about grape vines, scored some Irish apples, ogled Myosotidium hortensia, fondled mosses, and gave measured consideration to a rather fine Tetrapanax papyrifera. Wished I could've stayed longer, but we were due at my parents' for lunch.

The juggernaut of Irish garden shows, the Bloom Festival, is on from 28 May to 1 June in the Phoenix Park. Anyone interested in going along?
radegund: (Default)
...I love it when you talk kitchens!

We're planning ours, and I'm gathering tips.

Kitchens You Have Known: what has worked for you, and what hasn't? What seemed like a crazy idea but ended up being invaluable? What seemed sensible but was actually a nuisance? What's the niftiest kitchen storage arrangement you've encountered? What would your Dream Kitchen feature?

Our kitchen will be medium-sized, at 4.2m by 3.2m (excluding dining area). We'll have an island unit, with everything else along two walls, but other than that it's all pretty much up for discussion. I think I get the "work triangles" principle - can anyone tell me whether it makes a difference in practice? Someone told me recently that kitchen layout should reflect [right-]handedness, but was unfortunately unable to elaborate. Anyone heard of this? (I'm mildly ambidextrous, but comfortable being right-handed in the kitchen, if that makes a difference.)

[livejournal.com profile] mollydot kindly sent me a link to this article, which I find interesting but vaguely worrisome :-) I mean to say, what if, for instance, we believe we are following the doctrines therein set out, but in fact WE ARE DELUDED FOOLZ and will therefore suffer forever from improperly positioned drawers (hurr hurr) or a surfeit of focal points? Have you picked up any nuggets of layout theory that you'd care to share?

Bring on the kitcheny wisdom! I thank you.
radegund: (Default)

Happy St Radegund's Day, one and all!

Up to what is your (perhaps less than ideally) faithful correspondent?

Click here to find out... )

That'll do for the nonce. Onwards and upwards. Vincero, etc.


radegund: (Default)

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