Monday, 23 May 2016

A Tiny Kitchen Makeover: Before & After

It's been just over a year since Tom and I got the keys to our first home. Luckily the previous owners had good taste so most of the rooms haven't needed much decorating, but the kitchen was high on our list. Although it wasn't terribly out of date, being a Victorian terrace, the kitchen is quite small and dark so we wanted to create a lighter airier looking room with more surface space.

Removing old tiles / the joy of grouting...

We originally looked into the 'easy' solution of getting it done for us, but were put off by the quote we were given by a well known kitchen company, at almost £4000 just to replace the units and for new flooring. (This didn't include replacing the tiling or painting the walls which would have added even more costs on.) So we decided our best option was to DIY! 

The hob area before...

...And after

Tom did a lot of the research and measured out the walls & floor. In the end we had to enlist the help of 3 different workmen to do the jobs we couldn't do ourselves; a plumber to replace the sink and remove the radiator while we tiled, a joiner who installed the new worktop (using a fancy machine to join two pieces together) and finally a plasterer who we needed to smooth off the walls for us once we had removed the tiles. 

An 'in progress' shot, to show you the full chaos...

To save money we decided to keep the cupboards, but replaced one with a shelf to move the microwave on to, so that we had more surface space below it. We painted them white (after first prepping them with ESP primer. In the end we had to paint three layers though so it was quite time consuming!)


And after

Our biggest bargain was the shelving which cost only £7 for two long ex-scaffolding planks, which Tom measured and sawed before applying woodstain and varnish. (Bought from East Midlands Recycling Centre)

Mugs from Ikea/Sainsburys!

 Close up of the 'scaffolding' shelves

The most grueling bits were the tiling (mostly done by Tom who I had to keep reminding to eat and take a break!), the grouting (ugh, messy and not fun) and finally applying the sealant around the edges (inhaling this is not good for anyone...). We also had to spend several weeks with our dining room a real mess, kettle upstairs and eating takeaways and microwave meals. But it was worth it! 

I'm really proud of what we've achieved with this room and it's a great feeling when you know you've done most of the work yourselves. It's hard to estimate the final costs as numerous trips to B&Q, Wickes & Ikea et al were needed, but I'm sure we spent less than half of what we would have if we'd had the work done by a kitchen company. Now I'm off to put the kettle on...


Monday, 11 April 2016

A Trip to Haddon Hall (aka Prince Humperdinck's Castle in the Princess Bride)

"Have fun storming the castle!"

The Princess Bride is one of my favourite films, so when I discovered that some of it was shot in Derbyshire and that Prince Humperdink's Castle was under an hour's drive away I couldn't wait to visit.

Haddon Hall, near Bakewell in the Peak District was used as the Castle in the film, where Buttercup is taken against her will to marry the Prince. Westley, Inigo "You killed my father" Montoya and Fezzik then hatch a plan to rescue her before it's too late.

A still of Haddon Hall from The Princess Bride

The hall itself is a beautifully preserved Tudor manor, some of which dates right back to the 12th century. It was really fun exploring the medieval rooms, from the 'exercise room' (pictured above) meant for Elizabethan ladies  to walk up & down in so they wouldn't get a tan, to the kitchens which used a poor bow-legged dog to turn the spitroast! The gardens are also beautiful, with a lovely view of the countryside and river below. Entrance costs £13.50 which gains entry to the many rooms and garden.

Although there wasn't really any references to the film at the hall (besides the DVD in the shop!) it was a lovely afternoon which I would recommend to any film or history lovers!

See also: A Trip to Withnail's cottage, New York Film & TV spots.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Food in Notts: Oscar & Rosie's Pizza

I first tried Oscar & Rosie's pizza on a trip to Das Kino, in the Lace Market with fellow bloggers Janet from Words That Can Only be Your Own and Elle & Becca (who have just started a lovely new blog called The Weekend Collective).

Last year Oscar & Rosie's branched out and opened up their own pizza restaurant in Thurland Street. You can read their story here. Famous for their 'metre of pizza' they also do darn good veggie and vegan options. Having now tried three veggie options I can safely say there's no wrong choice to be made!

Tip: The 14" pizzas are pretty huge; I haven't finished a full one yet, so you may want to share a pizza between two, or ask for a pizza box to take the rest home for tomorrow's breakfast (which is usually what I opt for!) They also don't take bookings for small groups but if you turn up early-ish you should be fine.
Menu: Last time I went I opted for 'The Frenchman,' a goat's cheese, beetroot, rocket & pesto pizza on a garlic base. Mmm. I've yet to try their mac & cheese but it also looks tempting.
Value for money? 14 inch pizzas are £14, but for the sheer size & fresh ingredients I'd say it's not bad value and you could always choose to split a pizza. 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Kitchen Makeover Inspiration

This weekend Tom and I are starting on our DIY kitchen makeover. The plan is to make our small kitchen look roomier by painting our cupboards and walls white, changing the old tiles for white subway tiles and replacing the flooring and shelving. Here are a few kitchens that I pinned recently for inspiration. If our kitchen ends up looking as pretty as these I'll be very happy!

I'll post up a before and after soon, if all goes to plan... have a Happy Easter weekend!

Image above via Christina's Adventures


Friday, 4 March 2016

Film Friday: Spotlight

Now that Spotlight has won the Best Picture Oscar it reminded me I hadn't posted a review of it...

Plot: Spotlight tells the true story of a team of journalists in Boston who uncovered the scandal of child molestation in the Catholic church.
Guest appearances: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams & John Slattery  star as the Boston Globe journalist team.
Fun Facts: Spotlight was directed by Tom Mcarthy, who also directed the wonderful The Station Agent and appeared in the final series of the Wire, playing a journalist...
Overall: Spotlight was an excellent film with great performances all round. The only criticism by Tom was that Ruffalo's acting was a little over the top at times...

Have you seen Spotlight? Did you think it deserved its Oscar?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Make: A Jar of Good Things

Andrea posted an excellent list on her blog this week entitled '100 Things that make me happy and depend only on me'. The post reminded me of an idea which I nabbed from my creative friend Emma Blue at the beginning of the year. Emma posted a photo on Instagram at the end of 2015 of her 'jar of good things' which I loved. It's the simplest 'make' ever as all you need is an empty jar and some coloured paper!

The idea is to cut up some paper into strips and as the year goes by, write happy moments on them and collect them inside your jar. At the end of the year (on New Year's Eve?) you then look through the memories from the last year that you may otherwise have forgotten about. You could even geek out and categorise them using different colours, eg blue for friendship, red for love, green for adventures..? Sometimes I can be guilty of being a bit of a pessimist, so it's fun to try and focus on the positive things, however small they may be.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Hidden bars and crazy golf in Manchester

On our trip to New York last September Tom & I enjoyed a trip to Barcade, a bar full of vintage arcade machines in Brooklyn, and wondered why this concept hadn't caught on back in the UK yet. This weekend on a trip to Manchester we discovered a place that came close, 17 Below. a hidden 80's cocktail bar that has just opened up below Dogs 'n' Dough, down a side alley. We headed down on Saturday night to try it out.

While the beers were slightly pricey (around £4.50 for a bottle of craft beer) the arcade machines were free to play which was a bonus! There weren't as many games as there had been in Barcade, but we had a lot of fun shooting pool to an '80s soundtrack (think Bobby Brown & the Pointer Sisters). I also had a go at Pacman and Track & Field, but lost pretty badly! 17 Below is definitely worth a visit when you're next in Manchester, though I'd recommend getting there early before it gets too busy.

On Sunday, we headed to an indoor crazy golf course that my brother had tipped me off about, called Junkyard. It's housed in a UV-lit warehouse & built out of reclaimed junk. Although our game seemed to whizz by quite quickly it was definitely unlike any course I'd played before! Again, best to book ahead as it's pretty popular, (the whole of Saturday was full) and only there for 12 weeks in total before it disappears. After Tom was declared winner we headed for a Sunday lunch at the Knott bar nearby, which rounded off a lovely weekend.
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