House Layout

To make up for the super wordy post last time – and to help make sense of what is where in our house before we delve into the details of our DIY endeavours over the last few months, I thought I’d share our house layout and ‘before’ photos, the way we were shown the house by the letting agency.  The decor and colour palettes of most of the rooms has since changed, but it’ll give you all an idea of what we were working with.

So here’s the layout of our house… It’s deceptive from the front how far back it goes, though the slight bend has meant that there’s no nice simple 90′ angled walls at the back of the house.

 

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So, the rooms are being used as follows:

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Ironically, the layout map provided by the agency actually summed up the paint colour on the majority of the walls of the living areas.  After living in various rented accommodations over the last 6 years, I never want to see another magnolia painted wall in somewhere I live again… We’re slowly combatting the colour, getting rid of it room by room…

Better late than never?…

It’s been a bit quiet on this blog recently hasn’t it?… two whole months of amazingly quiet… Sorry about that.  A whole 79 days of quiet.  It’s not as long as my July – October hiatus last year, but it’s near enough, and I feel all sad for having left my blog alone for so long!

Thing is, it’s been pretty manic in the real world for me for the past few months, and rather than letting my blog take a backseat for much longer, I’ve realised that if I’m going to continue it, it’s going to have to be a little less frequently (but hopefully maybe one post a week?…).

So, what’ve I been up to since all the way back in February?… Well… I had another project to deal with, and then work got pretty busy, then I got ill, then work again, then J proposed (and I said yes, of course!), then we went on holiday to visit some friends and family, then I got ill again (seriously, I’m like some sort of bug-magnet, and not just the creepy-crawly kind.. ants seem to like me rather a lot, but that’s a whole lot of something different from being ill!), then work, then another couple of projects came along that have been taking up a LOT of my time recently, and I’ve also taken on more responsibility in work, which means, yep, you’ve guessed it, less free time (or at least, less time in which I’m not feeling so tired all I want to do is veg in front of the TV and not do anything.. ugh).

It’s all good stuff though, but with these other outside projects, AND wedding planning, you can imagine that the flat and the cooking side of things has taken a backseat completely (and embarrassingly so – I’ve promised J that I’m going to cook for him this weekend, as he’s been doing all the cooking of meals recently).

But TONIGHT I’m off to a Cardiff Blogs meet-up, which I’m excited about; It’s a great way to meet other bloggers in the Cardiff area, and chat about fun stuff (and have some free drinks).

I’ll let you know how it goes (and I promise to update the blog with a recipe later this week!).

Sarah x

 

Twigs and Trees

This weekend I went for a walk in the park to find some old dead and discarded branches that I can use for my Christmas twigs (I’m planning on spray painting them silver and wrapping fairy lights around them = much cheaper than buying the pre-sprayed branched in shops, hurray!).  It was a fantastic Autumn day, cold enough to feel like Winter was looming now, especially with the chilly wind and the fact that it gets dark so quickly nowadays.

I’m hoping to spray paint the branches this coming weekend (I’ve yet to decide on whether to tape down bin liners to the floor in my flat and do it indoors, or to chance it and try and do it in the car-parky area behind my flat…  Thoughts anyone??)

Before I spray the twigs however, I’ve got some major chopping of branches to do (it sounds worse than it is.. I just need to snap some of the smaller twigs off the main branches so that the finished twig-tree doesn’t look too cluttered!).

Italy Part 1: Verona

So, some of you may not have noticed (due to my sly use of scheduling posts to publish – such a useful feature!), but I disappeared off to Italy with J for a week in mid-October.  I hadn’t been on a proper holiday in years (I suppose the need / want to work in summer holidays and student terms just didn’t make a holiday work for me, and until getting a full-time job, the issue of holiday funds had always been a slight problem.

I finally managed to persuade J to take time off work at the same time as me, and off we galavanted to warmer climes and sunnier spaces (albeit a slightly stressed and tired Sarah, in much need of this holiday!).  We decided on Italy as I’d never been there, and J had enjoyed the holidays there when he was younger.  Although he’d been to northern Italy, he’d not been to Verona or Venice.  It was more my idea to visit Verona than his, but I’m glad we did both, as both cities are so different from each other, and gave us two very different experiences of Italian city life.

This post is all about Verona though, so I’m not going to say anything more about Venice just yet (shh, that’s going to be talked about in a blogpost next week!).

We had decided to spend eight days in Italy in total (Saturday – Saturday), so bright and early on the 8th of October, we set off from a slightly chilly Cardiff and travelled to Gatwick, and from there, by plane to Verona.  I was particularly nervous about the plane as I hadn’t been on one in fourteen years (the last time I had flown was when I was nine years old, on a 10-hour flight to Orlando, Florida).  However, the plane was fiiiine.  And quite pretty too once we escaped from all the clouds of Britain and flew into the nice sunny areas of mainland Europe.  Plus it was only a 90 minute journey, so it went by really quickly (plus I fell asleep).

So at 4pm Italian time (GMT+1), we arrived on Italian soil, got a taxi to our nearby hotel, dropped our bags and ran out and explored lay down for a nap (or at least I did… ah me of little energy!).  We decided to just find a place to eat that evening and go back to the hotel again afterwards, to conserve energy for exploring on the Sunday.

The Sunday was spent visiting lots of touristy areas of Verona, albeit accidentally in the case of Juliet’s balcony (I realised when we were eating lunch that we were literally around the corner from the house, so it would clearly be a shame not to hustle our way through the crowds to catch a quick glimpse of it before we headed onwards).

Juliet's Balcony

The most of our time that day was spent exploring the Teatro Romano di Verona, an ancient Roman theatre to the north of the city, which we accessed via Ponte Pietra, one of the oldest bridges in the city.  The theatre was built in 1BC, and is now used regularly for plays and operas (much like the larger Arena in the centre of West Verona).  The museum encompasses both the Roman theatre, and the remains of the Roman buildings built above it, which house a collection of Roman stonework and other artifacts found around Verona.  It also had a beautiful view of the Western area of the city across the river.

The city has lots of tall houses, and large open piazzas (not the food…. they’re like large pedestrianised squares, some with parks in the middle, like Piazza Brà, and some with a permanent market, like Piazza Erbe, and others just with a statue or monument of an important Italian figure).

Colourful Veronese Houses

In baking-related fun, we did in fact come across a statue of Garibaldi in the park that we ate our lunch in on the Sunday:

We also visited the Arena  on Sunday afternoon (Verona’s massive amphitheatre, conveniently situated just round the corner from our hotel), and whilst J seemed to have fun walking energetically up and down the large steps, I struggled a little bit (I partly blame it on the fact that the steps were knee-height for my little legs, and partly on the fact that the strange and slightly dangerous coincidence that my shoes had no grips on the soles, and some of the stones were similar to polished quartz – eek!).

The Monday was a lot calmer, as we’d seen most of the sights, so we decided to meander along Verona’s town walls, and find the Gardino Giusti, to the east of the city.

Verona's Town Walls

The gardens were hidden away behind a grey building, which looked like all other buildings along the street.  This made it even more magical to see such greenery hidden behind the tall walls.  The gardens stretch up the hillside, with a spectacular view at the top of the entire city of Verona.

Of course, the food in Verona was fantastic (I ate pizza and gelato, and for some reason, be it no stress or maybe the way they produce dairy over in Italy, neither foodstuff made me feel ill… so I ate lots of both…!).  The gelato in particular was amazing.  It’s not like British ice cream:  It’s far more creamy in texture, but also lighter, so it feels far more refreshing than sickly.  The flavours are also far better:  the chocolate is far less sweet, slightly bitter even, like dark chocolate, and the melon flavour was as refreshing as eating a chunk of real melon itself.

One of the charming aspects of our hotel room was the fact that the decor was painted onto our walls:  butterflies were hand painted above our electric sockets and on one entire wall of our room.

The view from our room was also beautiful, and we were woken up the first morning by the church bells ringing rather chaotically right outside of our window at 7.45am.  Here’s the view from our window below:

San Luca

The three days felt like they were action packed but were hugely enjoyable.  Verona felt very open and spacious (especially in comparison to Venice, but that’s for another post…!).  One of my favourite moments of Verona was eating outside one of the many restaurants that spread out onto the pavements of Piazza Brà, right outside of the Arena and the night fall and the busy footfall of people in the evening, going to restaurants and bars.

Piazza Brà

And if all this sounds confusing (‘how did they see that… where is that?’), here’s a little, slightly crazy-looking map of where we ended up wandering on Sunday:

Verona - Sunday adventures

… And on Monday:

Verona - Monday adventures

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(Goodness me, what a lot of words… those who made it to the end of this post without looking away, yawning, and hoping that the next paragraph was the last paragraph, well done! A virtual cupcake goes out to you in gratitude for putting up with my bloffling – see, blog and waffling in one word, what can I say, I’m a genius too ridiculous for my own good).

It’s Oh So Quiet… Shh.. Shh…

Yeah, I like Bjork.  Funny story – to stop me thinking about it too much when I used to go for blood tests in the doctors (I used to faint if I saw the blood!), I would lie down whilst they took the blood and listen to my iPod… I used to play one of my favourite tracks of Bjork’s: “Play Dead”. The nurse got the irony.

Anyway, this is not about that sort of thing at all!… It’s more of an apology for being very much AWOL from this blog… It’s been a hectic couple of months for me:  I got offered a job (which I took) working in admin for a web design company (they’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself)…  AND I got myself a flat! A flat! I’ve been looking for a place of my own for some time as I’ve been moving from shared house to shared house for the past five years, and I managed to snap up a gorgeous flat in a small town outside of the city where I work.  It’s a reasonable price to rent, which surprised me, as it’s easily twice – if not three times – the size of all the others I viewed, which were being offered at the same price or more than this one.  The one big perk? It has a spare room (which is going to be my study / music room / overflow library of books.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that this room has a fantastic view of the sea?!.. No?… Well, maybe that’s because I’m trying to kid myself that I will get work done in this room…

All in all, it’s a great flat. It’s pretty exciting to have it all to myself, and I’m looking forward to coming home to it after a long day at work.

The best part – and teeny bit scary / exciting part – is that it is completely unfurnished (apart from white good: Built-in oven, small fridge-freezer, and a washing machine – which has its own cupboard in the hallway!).  So the last couple of weeks since deciding to take the plunge and signing away my life first month’s wages have been crazy busy, with me trying to find cheap and functional basic furniture (there’ll be separate posts all about these – especially the bargains I’ve managed to find!), and scouting round for more quirky individual pieces that will make the room my own, rather than looking like an IKEA catalogue.  

As well as this, the inevitable big move – which will be complete by the end of this week (eek!) has meant that I’ve very reluctantly put a stop to my cooking, simply to try to get rid of all the freezer food / tins that I have that I’d rather not take with me.  I am really looking forward to having an entire kitchen to myself to bake though, and it’s a good excuse to use / test-out the oven, as I’ve become rather partial to cooking with gas ovens, and this one is an electric fan one… so it’ll cook things a heck of a lot faster (supposedly) than the partly-broken gas one that I’ve been using for the past year. Hmm!…

Anyway, now for the fun part – photos!  They’re not amazing, as I took them on the day I viewed the flat (but they’re better than me taking photos right now, as it looks messy with all my stuff untidily thrown in some of the rooms.. I may take some photos this weekend, just to keep it real).

This is a map of the flat, so you can kind of see where each of the rooms are…

Floor Plan

The kitchen / living room is all one big space.  I’ve never been a fan of open-plan living spaces, but this one works, because the room is so large, and the lovely bay window in the living room area (see below) gives the entire room great natural light throughout the day (it captures all the evening light too as it is west-facing, hurray!)

Kitchen Area

Living Room area

Then next to the living room (and straight ahead when you enter the flat) is the main bedroom, which again is lovely and light.  I’m currently thinking of getting an easy-chair to put in the window so that I can curl up on it on nights I can’t sleep.

Main Bedroom

(It’s wider than the photo… I took it from an odd angle…)

Then down the hallway we have the spare room:

Spare Bedroom / Study / Music Room

… the bathroom…

Bathroom

.. and finally, a shot of the hallway with the cupboard at the end…

Hallway (Washing machine cupboard at end)

So there we have it, my new home!  Now excuse me whilst I go do yet another happy dance whilst packing up my belongings.. Possibly to this song right here, which always makes me think happy summery silly thoughts (and because I have fallen somewhat in love with my flat, so it’s rather appropriate):

Snow Photos

Whilst clearing out my large stash of photos on my iPhone, I thought I’d upload a couple of them here… They’re quite old (you can tell I don’t link up my iPhone to the computer much – I prefer just charging it via the mains!), as they date back to the early weeks of December last year (2010).

I used an iPhone application called ‘Hipstamatic’, which you can find out more about here: http://hipstamaticapp.com/.  Since taking them with the application, they haven’t been further edited.

I love old black and white photos, so I adjusted the settings for the ‘lens’ and the ‘film’ to create nice contrasts, which were particularly effective in the snow.  I didn’t last particularly long in that snowstorm either – my phone didn’t seem to like being out in sub-zero temperatures, and nor did my body; I came down with a flu bug the next day!

Main Road, first day of snow (Friday 10th Dec), waiting for the bus to work.

Bench by the bus stop (Friday)

Snow-covered fence by the bus stop (Friday)

Bin by bus stop (Friday)

Icicles hanging outside my kitchen window

My road, snowed in. Taxis weren't even going up it at one point.

Walking along the main road on the Monday – when it was snowing particularly heavily – was bizarre.  As one of the main roads out of my city, it was almost completely deserted for once.  I’ve never experienced this much snow before (we had over a foot of snow in a weekend), so it was quite exciting for me, though the fun was lessened somewhat when I still had to make it into work through the snow!

My main road, the following Monday. Very few cars were on the roads.

... And the cornershop was still advertising ice-creams in the snow. I couldn't help but find this amusing.

I’m quite taken with the photos of the fence and the bin in particular… I feel that perhaps I should print them out or do something with them, but I haven’t decided exactly what yet.

Paintpots and Pancakes – The Beginning

Welcome to Paintpots and Pancakes, a blog that will be featuring lots of different crafty fun adventures of a 20-something post-student out in the big world, who enjoys cooking, painting and various other creative endeavours.

Hopefully there will be a couple of blog posts per week, usually split equally between design projects and baking, each of which will be as cheap as possible (got to think of the very poor post-student budget here…!), whilst being creative and having fun.