From the kitchen


Got to share tonight’s tea with you! I don’t usually go in for food sharing online, but this is one of the easiest, tastiest, inexpensive meals I’ve made for such a long time and it is definitely worth showing you.

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Baby potatoes with olive oil, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and chicken breasts bashed out flat with a dollop of garlic and herb cream cheese in the middles, rolled up and held in place by stretched out strips of smoked bacon.

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Chopped up green peppers, yellow peppers, red onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil with a hint of salt and a squeeze of lemon.

I sealed off the chicken bundles in the frying pan with some butter and sage leaves so the bacon started to go crispy then transferred them to the oven in a roasting tray.

The small potatoes went in another roasting tray, and the vegetables went in when the chicken and potatoes were partially done.

And this is the result:

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Washed down with a nice glass of red wine, this has got to be the best dinner we’ve had since Christmas. Estimated cost of each plate – £4.50. Miles better than a carvery dinner!

 

 

Kitchen Update – nearly there!!


I just wanted to let you have a brief update of what has been happening in the kitchen today and yesterday, but there are no photos because I have lost track of my camera during the movement of cupboards and things today.

We are at the stage now where Kevin is doing battle with the base units and sink unit, trying to get them levelled and fixed to the walls and each other. The cooker is IN and working and we have had our first food cooked in it tonight (wahoo!) and it’s just a case now of:

  • fitting all the base units
  • altering the sink unit to fit
  • cutting the worktops
  • tiling the splash-back for the sink
  • buying and fitting the stainless steel splash-back for the cooker
  • altering some wall cupboards to fit
  • finding a board to reuse as a window sill and then painting it
  • building up a couple of new cupboards
  • fixing all wall cupboards up, including the one that is going to go round the boiler
  • hanging the new door (my Dad has spent all day rebuilding the door surround, rebating for the hinges, cutting for the latch and the handles and planing it to fit, but it needs painting and hanging yet)
  • sanding down and repainting the back door
  • fitting the microwave brackets to the wall and putting that back in the kitchen
  • moving the fridge back from the living room
AND THEN…
I’m going to go shopping for hanging racks and hooks for my utensils (and a couple of new pans but don’t tell Kevin), sort out my plates and cups etc to put in my new cupboards, go food shopping for proper food, stock up the cupboards, and then clean the house from top to bottom and catch up with all my other household jobs that have been put on hold for the past couple of weeks.
I think the next update I do will be when everything is in and replaced, so the next set of photos will be the FINISHED set!!
Definitely getting excited now!!

Kitchen Update – Part 9


Nearly there!!

Since the last update so much has happened in the kitchen that it’s almost ready to be called a room again. The wallpaper is all up, the lights over the sink area are connected up, the flooring has been laid (this afternoon), the electrics have all been finished off and the cooker hood has been installed.

Here’s the photos to show you how all that happened:

Kevin knocking out the wall for the extractor hood

 

Getting ready to paper - Dad's touching up the emulsion and Kevin is dropping his plumb bob to line up the first piece of paper

 

Paper on the walls made it instantly feel better

 

Cooker hood in place, papering finished off...getting exciting now!

 

The black on the floor is a damp-proof membrane because the floor is solid concrete. The green is underlay and the vinyl will sit on top

 

Here, we have the south wall showing the space where the sink unit will go, the cleaned up boiler housing on the east wall, the cooker hood on the west wall and the underlay for the vinyl all fixed in place and ready to go.

 

EEK!!! Floor nearly laid!

 

So the stage we’re at tonight is that the floor is down now, all trimmed and glued in place. The kitchen door to the hall has been removed (hurrah!!) and will be replaced later in the week. The back door (where Kevin’s head is here) is looking mankier and mankier as the project has gone on, so that will be getting some well deserved TLC at a later date – probably next weekend now. Kevin is – as we speak at this very moment – bringing in the washing machine, the dishwasher and the new cooker with the help from my Dad. I’ve not been much help today because I haven’t been very well. I started to feel a bit grotty yesterday (I think I’ve done too much in the past couple of days, like driving and things that I haven’t done for months and months and months) and I had a really bad night last night. Today I’ve been like a zombie because I’ve had to take regular doses of tramadol. It’s great for the pain for lousy for the brain function!

Anyway, the kitchen is looking like a room, the appliances are being brought in, the cupboards will be started tomorrow morning, the main lights need installing and then there’s a little shopping trip due to Ikea later in the week for those “finishing touches”.

Excited much!!!

Kitchen Update – part 8


So tired today, but at last the kitchen is taking shape.

The plastering is all finished, there is paint sealing all the bare walls and there are two coats of emulsion on the ceiling so that bit is finished (hurrah!). There are new architraves round the kitchen door and the cubby-hole where my washer and dryer are and they have had an undercoat tonight. Kevin is busy cutting and fixing skirting boards as we speak, and he will undercoat them tonight so they’ll be ok in the morning to wallpaper up to.

The exhaust hole for the cooker hood has been cut into the wall now, and all the electrics are fixed and fitted. We need to put on the new socket-tops yet, but whilst we are decorating it makes sense to have the old ones on for now.

Kevin removing a hole in the wall for the extractor hood. The red socket will be replaced.
White walls!! Plaster on the walls is now sealed, ceiling has two coats and is finished.

 

It’s nearly time to get the cupboards and worktops fixed and then I can start to get my house back in shape. 

 

My living room - looks like squatters have moved in

 

My hallway. Good job we don't use the front door much...!

 

Special thanks to my Mum tonight who fed us. She made a huge pan of steak and kidney with potatoes and veg. It was absolutely gorgeous and I didn’t want to move to come home again afterwards!!

The plan tomorrow is to gloss all the woodwork and start putting on the paper (you can just make out a couple of rolls of it in this picture above. Don’t ask me how one has ended up on top of the radiator….the house elf must be trying to tidy up without being seen haha!

 

Kitchen Remodelling – Part 4


Well, it’s Sunday afternoon and it’s time to update you on what’s been happening since Friday. The update is quite brief really…the kitchen hasn’t changed much (except that now every single scrap of plaster is off the walls and there is no ceiling) but there’s been a lot happening in terms of preparation and getting stuff for the project.

Yesterday morning was a bit chaotic: we had to take the old cupboards to the tip (or “recycling centre” as I should really call it) along with several large sacks of rubble so we hoisted up the trailer to the car, loaded up and set off. Ethan had a recital at school yesterday morning so we took him there on the way to the tip recycling centre but as we set off there was an almighty CLUNK and the trailer started making some very strange noises. It was only later on after we’d emptied the car and the trailer that we noticed it was listing to the left rather too much and the funny noises were extremely alarming. Kevin pulled over by the side of the road to check it out, and discovered the leaf springs on the left wheel had snapped again, which effectively put the trailer out of action until we can find time to get it welded.

We were supposed to be on our way to collect the units from the other house, as well as to B&Q to get plasterboard and all the paraphernalia to rebuild my kitchen and we now had no transport. We were about 200 yards away from a van hire place so we decided to hire a transit for the weekend and do away with all ideas of transporting things in the trailer.

So, a couple of trips back home and back again to drop the disabled trailer, pick up Kevin’s documents and ID and leave the car there and off to Norden to get the kitchen units.

Good job we hired the van in the end – the units, sink, worktops, cooker, plinths and everything else all fitted in, in ONE GO which was fantastic! Kevin’s 3D Tetris skills were put to the test, but we got it all in without having to collapse anything (except ourselves….).

And so to home.

But we got lost and ended up down some narrow country lanes and over speed humps before we found our way back to the motorway. I was cringing as the stuff in the back settled and moved at every bump and turn in the road – eek!

Back home and all was well: the old cooker and the dishwasher were sitting happily in the back garden whilst the remaining bits of ceiling were taken down and the bikes and other bits and pieces had been removed from the garage to make room for the incoming units and worktops. A late night last night, and for the first Saturday in I don’t know how long, there was no red wine consumed. Sigh, the sacrifices we make…

One funny moment last night – I was in the bathroom getting ready for a shower and I could hear Sam and Emma talking to each other in the kitchen down below. There is only the bathroom floorboards separating the two rooms now and the voices were loud and clear in both directions. Very strange!

Today saw us spend too much some time in B&Q again, but the shopping list was HUUUGE. We’ve bought all the plasterboard we need, all the wood, insulation, plaster, browning, plumbing and electrical bits and bobs, skirting board, filler, a new door and about a mile of new cable.

The boys are in there now sorting out relaying wires and cables for the new sockets and lights, and I’m in my living room avoiding the dust. Avoiding?? Did I really say that? What I should have said is “wallowing” in it…and still no sign of any red wine!

Anyway, it’s a blue moon in Manchester tonight. City have not only beaten United today, they absolutely drubbed them to within an inch of their life and wupped them 6-1. At Old Trafford. Can’t get much sweeter than that!!

No photos today, it’s too depressing. Maybe tomorrow when there’s plasterboard covering up the ceiling joists haha!

 

Kitchen Remodelling – Part 3


I know that to have a new kitchen, one must first get rid of the old one. What I didn’t quite get my head round when I agreed to do this project, that to get rid of the old one means stripping the room down to BARE BRICK!!!

Oh boy oh boy oh boy….

Kevin and Ethan taking down the cupboards off the west wall

 

Sam and Ethan removing the sink unit

It started when the chaps started removing the artex last night. Remember how I said I was worried about the ceiling?? Well the ceiling is the least of my worries right now because the walls just disintegrated when they started chipping away at the artex. They had to remove most of the plaster as well, which is probably a good thing because one whole wall turned out to be built up of all sorts of rubbish (remember yesterday when I said it was hardboard, plasterboard, the odd beer mat and a newspaper? Well last night they unearthed a section that was filled in with an old cereal box…Tony the Tiger was doing a fantastic job of holding up my wall!).

Sam taking off the artex...and plaster....

 

Also, when they tried getting the artex off the projection where the stairs turn it ended up being removed completely.

Exposed staircase

There is a whole corner of the wall that has been removed (for some reason the previous occupants of this house were fond of random “improvements”!) and we’re not quite at the end of the deconstructing stage yet….the ceiling has got to come down today…sob!

East wall - no plaster - held up by cereal packets and beer mats!

 

Naked east wall and lonely cooker (it doesn't know it's going to be replaced yet)

As bad as the kitchen looks now, I know deep down that this is the worst it can be. Everything else from here on in is an improvement and a step towards rebuilding again. Hurrah!

The rest of the house is a total mess – there is an inch layer of plaster dust over everything downstairs and I’ve not got a hope of cleaning it (no hot water due to the electrics being turned off this morning, and I haven’t a clue where any of my cleaning products are) and there are white footprints EVERYWHERE!

The plan for the rest of the day is to remove the ceiling, go and collect the rest of the new cupboards and the cooker, take the broken kitchen to the tip, engage a team of plasterers (my Dad and my Uncle Peter), relocate a couple of electric points, do a bit of cleaning if possible and then sit down to cry with a large glass of wine and a box of Maltesers.

Update will follow tomorrow…if I can find my laptop from under the dust!

 

Kitchen Remodelling – Part 2


As promised, here’s an update on the old kitchen situation:

After much weighing up and umming and ahhing last night, the first wall of cupboards was completely stripped last night and all the tiles were taken off. The living room is like a bombsite with all the boxes of kitchen stuff and to make it worse I had to go shopping today for supplies. There’s nowhere to put things and I’ve not got a lot of prep space for food so my shopping list was mainly things like microwaveable rice and tins of curry. Got lots of things to put on toast and a couple of treats (chocolate covered, naturally) to bulk up the weekend’s diet. My mum has said she’ll cook for us on Sunday which is a huge relief. Thank you Mum!!

Here’s a look at the work in progress last night:

Kevin and Sam dismantling the cupboards on the east wall

 

Taking down the architrave from the top of the cupboards
How BAD is this wall??!

 

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of work to be done to make this wall sound yet, but we’re pressing on with it. The plan tonight is to remove the cupboards from the west wall and to remove all the artex from all the walls and the ceiling. Oh boy the ceiling…can’t wait to see what state that’s in!!

Sam was keen to get cracking with all the tile removal:

From this...

 

...to this in about 15 minutes!!

 

Notice how dark it is outside? Yup, it was getting a bit late by then so it was time to call it a night.  More tomorrow after today’s efforts.

I anticipate a lot of dust tonight *cough* *cough* *splutter* *splutter* but I’ll try to get some decent pics as the artex comes off. My kitchen won’t be red any more hurrah!!!!

 

 

Kitchen Remodelling – Part 1


We moved into this house over 14 years ago and at the time and we had very little money with which to make the house our new home. We did a few bits of decorating to make the rooms ours, and over the years we have gradually redone the bathroom, the living room, Ethan’s bedroom and our bedroom. We tickled the back bedroom (which is now Emma’s room) and we “made over” the kitchen in an attempt to put our stamp on it.

We made new panels to cover the existing cupboard doors and Kevin rebuilt some of the cupboards to make them bigger, taller, narrower and basically better and we bought new worktops to add a bit of newness to the room. We then painted over the tiles and the artex on the walls and the whole colour scheme was a nod towards the Mediterranean idea – terracotta, blue, yellow etc.

However, over the years, the cupboard carcasses have deteriorated badly and are in such a poor state now they are starting to disintegrate. One of the drawers doesn’t have runners any more and has to be hoiked along wooden battens; every time we open two of the other drawers a shower of sawdust drifts down to coat the contents of the cupboards underneath; the red paint on the tiles is peeling off in random places; there are holes in the ceiling where we had to replace the light and it didn’t get patched up properly; the worktops have got quite marked on the edges, and around the sink the top is starting to separate in layers.

It’s a bit grim!

As ever, we have no money to do anything about it but we have been blessed, and I do mean blessed, to be given a whole new kitchen FREE from a friend of Kevin’s. The couple who are getting rid of theirs have had it for a couple of years but now apparently “need” a new one and we are jumping at the chance to do something about our rotten kitchen by accepting their used cupboards. Not everyone would accept a kitchen used by someone else, but I don’t care. They are new to me and it’s better than what we have got, and the fact they are coming free of charge makes it so much sweeter!!

We started in earnest last night and first to be done was to empty the cupboards and move the essentials into the living room for the interim.  We now have the fridge, a cupboard with a bit of worktop on, the kettle, microwave and toaster set up in the living room in the space where the dining table was (now in the garage) and all my food, pots, pans, cutlery, plates and cups are in various boxes and crates all over the house.

Next came a test to see just how easy the tiles are going to be to take off….and boy did it feel good to rip them babies off the walls! I did the tiles and Kevin did a bit of the artex as well as removing the big cupboard from the corner.

Here’s a couple of pictures for you to see the “before” and the “just started” stages.

Cupboards over the cooker (west wall)

 

Sink area with pans hanging on the rail (north wall)

 

Wall cupboards (east wall)
Door to the hall (south wall)

 

Stage two (in the next couple of days) will be where the room is stripped out completely and before the walls get skimmed and papered all being well.  The biggest problems I can foresee are the ceiling – which I think is going to have to be replaced completely – and the wall behind where the fridge was, which used to be a doorway and was patched up (literally) by the previous owners with a peculiar combination of bits of plaster board, cardboard, the odd brick and a couple of newspapers. Good grief!!

Kevin taking out the first cupboard - eek!!

Looking forward to having it finished but not looking forward to camping in my own house in the weeks it is going to take to get it all done. Hey ho, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. And you can’t build a new kitchen without rebuilding the walls of the old one first.

This is my living room today. As you can see it is…erm…”busy”….!

My "living" room

 

I wasn’t going to post this but the more I think about it the more I want to share it. As you can imagine, our house is in chaos at the minute but this is a picture of my daughter last night. Amidst the chaos and dust and movement and noise, she sat and did her college homework without a murmur. How’s THAT for dedication to education?! 

Emma working throughout the chaos (and shielding her face from the camera!)

 

 

Giddy Giddy Giddy!!!


My daily blog post is late today because I’ve been caught up with something exciting and it’s been making me giddy.

We’ve been given some kitchen units (for free!) and we’ve been measuring up and trying to work out how they will fit into ours. I’ve been after a new kitchen for the past 14 years (precisely the amount of time we’ve lived in this house) but what with one thing and another it’s just been off the agenda completely. This chance of giveaway units has come as a surprise and we’re jumping at the opportunity to replace our very old, very tired, very outdated and very falling-apart kitchen units.

The people who are giving us these units are also selling their cooker…a huge double oven, 8 burner range-type cooker which had me drooling and wondering what I can sell to pay for it. But, after measuring once, twice and forty two times, we just can’t fit it in and still have enough storage space for everything in the kitchen. So, sadly, I will have to make do with my existing cooker for a while longer yet, or at least until we can afford to have the kitchen extended. But that’s another story!!

This is how far we’ve got tonight. As you can see the walls have only a couple of cupboards yet. That’s for another occasion when my I can get my head round it.

So, after a couple of hours wrestling with the online Ikea kitchen designer and a tape measure, my head is boggling with how on earth we’re going to get a quart into a pint pot and I’m heading off to bed with thoughts of what else needs doing in the kitchen to make it right.

Flooring….tiling…ceiling…papering….painting….woohoo!!! Bring it on!

 

 

Daybook Entry – Feb 11th


MY DAYBOOK ENTRY FOR TODAY (apologies for it being the second one this week!)
Outside my window…there is a beautiful patch of blue sky in between the clouds
I am thinking…I need to go outside today
I am thankful for…my home
From the kitchen…something frozen I think!
I am wearing…comfy clothes – midriff is painful again today
I am creating…an article for the church magazine
I am going…to go and see my best friend play in a concert tonight
I am reading…The Night Following by Morag Joss. It’s not going too well….
I am hoping…for something nice on Valentine’s Day
I am hearing…music from my next door neighbour bleeding through my wall
Around the house…is lots of laundry
One of my favourite things…a nice cup of tea
A few plans for the rest of the week: Band on Monday and Thursday but nothing else. NOTHING.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing…



Please visit  http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/ and join in with us!!