Saturday 30 January 2016

When Your Selling Your House...

picture from my favourite house blog Hooked on Houses
ALERT: This is a long post so I have decided to cut it into 3.

There arent many things that I feel I can talk about. Ideas I have loads, but there are two things I know - I like white bread only and the other one is how to stage a house to sell it.  Everything else, I am probably shooting from the hip. These are our experiences and observations, everyone will do things differently and every move is different. This will just give you some ideas...

I have thought about this a lot lately due to peoples blog posts, comments from friends and family about they changes we are making and in general, people tend to market their home around Easter.

Many people come back from holidays in say a hotel or a Gite in France or a holiday home else where.  People tend to say how nice and airy it was, and easy to keep and think how uncomplicated it all is.  How it was so practical and tidy and easy to clean  Then they come home, air port rage, you've have lost a suit case, the transfer bus takes for ever to arrive, the kids are whining.  Then you cant remember where you parked the car in the airport parking.  (been here seen it with my family, TIP - take a picture on your phone of the parking number and area).

You arrive home, suitcases are emptied out in front of washers, theres a tonne of post.  You look around your home and you have a visuals headache.  This is not the home from the magazine or the holiday home with all of the sun you have just left behind.  Normal life resumes and it all feels claustrophobic.  Seems familiar to some?  I see you, nodding your head to at least one of these things. (OK so I dont really, that would be creepy).  Could it be that you have more things than you need?

So, firstly why do you want to move...? If you answer that you need more room and you have more spare beds than people who sleep in them, think about how each room is used.  As you may not need to move.  Especially if you really like the area.

Forget Marie Kondo, that isnt going to be fast enough, she says 6 months.  The summer is coming - you need a skip, a dumpster if you are American.  Go through everything.  Anything that isnt an heirloom, or you might die if you dont have it, get rid.  All the rubbish throw it out.  Car boots near your house?  You are going to frequent them to sell.  YOU ARE NOT GOING THERE TO BUY MORE.  If you are a hoarder, have a friend who is "firm", there to help you throw it all away.  You will only pay the removal men to move it to the next house.  It will sit in a box for 6 months and then it will move to the loft and never be opened.  You are paying mortgage payments to house toilet roll rockets, all 20 of them, from when your child was 2, they are now 30 and have children of their own?  Keep 1, take a picture of the rest and recycle them.

Moving home costs lots of money.  Removal men, stamp duty, solicitors fees, time taken off work to view if needs be.  You have to be sure that you really do have to move.  Or you could just be like me and you dont mind moving, your an old hand. you can skip to the end and leave all of your helpful tips for moving and ditching the junk.

Now you have pared right back, do you still want to move?  If you do read on

My advise when selling a house

  •  clean it to within an inch of its life.  And then bring in a professional cleaner.  Get the ovens and everything clean.  Bathrooms and kitchens really do sell the house.

Even if you house isnt perfect, it will make the people think the house has been well cared for.

  • Get rid of everything but the basics.  most people buy a house to go larger.  They dont want to see that the people who live there, dont fit, especially if their family is bigger than yours.

  • Start to think and get into the habit of thinking - you are trying to make money here, so every morning when you leave the house, your home is your show room.  Leave it exactly at its best.  Keep on top of the laundry and dishes.  Leave nothing in the sink.  Sounds easy right?  start now.  It will become easier.

  • Each room you have said is a bedroom, should look like a bedroom.  
Your house is up against new builds, perfectly styled, they have had marketing people look at it and have all the tricks to sell you a house.  The sofas maybe slightly smaller, they wont have cupboards in the room, as the rooms are quite small.  People realise this, but because there isnt work to do fixing it up and it is all fresh and clean they buy them.  You have to go the extra mile.  In your box room, that you have used as an office or a dump ground, borrow a bed, or buy a cheap Z bed, or even go to a charity shop and buy a bed (we have done this 3 times).  Make it look usable.  The bed can then be donated back to the charity shop.  Are you going to really jeopardise a sale of your biggest asset for the want of a £40 bed and giving those people with no vision a reason to not buy you house?

  • Get a friend to look at your house and critique it.  You have seen it on Phil Spencer, Secret Agent, where he gives them the truth in a pamphlet.  Someone telling you what they see as they enter the house and anything that they would be worried about, new buyers will also.  You become immune to things as the years go on.  You no longer see it.  A really good friend or family member will tell you what they think.  They want to help you and they want you to be happy and that means selling and moving.

Did I say clean?
  • Clean clean clean.  And dont forget the garden.  Clean all hard standing areas, jet wash them if they look dingy.

Now you are nearly there, do you think you are ready for Estate Agents to view your house and value it?  

Post 2, will cover about what we have learnt from dealing with Estate Agents

Please leave any helpful comments you can think of.  I will add them to post 3 all in the one place so people can see them without searching.  I will cut and paste with your blog links.  Please put them in the body of the comment text.

Friday 29 January 2016

Planning the garden

The weather is really bad at the moment, lots of rain and wind.  Makes you cold pretty quick, so I am in doors doing chores and in between I am watching this guy!  OMG he makes laugh but also, he makes me want to grow as many veggies as I can.

I bet you all have some good ideas about how to do a container garden?  Care to share ideas with me?

Enjoy.  pahoehoe!  pahoehoe! *giggle*

Be kind


Wednesday 27 January 2016

Look At This Stuff

"Look at this stuff, isnt it neat, wouldnt you think my collections complete..."

How is it I remember these song lyrics, but I cant remember what shop I saw cushions in at the weekend, that I have now decided really are ok...

Well the below you tube, really tugs at my heart.  Many years ago, I used to dance around, run tippy toes all over the living room, twirling and singing my heart out with my Nieces.  Some one was upset, having a tantrum, something was 'UNFAIR!', someone was hurt. Little pudgy hands opening and closing, held up in the air, "up, up", their raspy little voices would say, their faces blotchy, tear stained, maybe even snot streaming.  Words that didnt quite make sense, as they tried to babble what they wanted or needed but didnt quite know the words to express.  I'd scoop them up, wipe their eyes, spin them around across to the TV, in would go the Little Mermaid video and all was well with the world.  Oh how I wish life worked like that now for them, for us all. 

Ah Disney, this was one of your greats.  I know every word, I know when she twirls swimming upwards, arms down and then thrown out wide.  Her hair swishing, her prefect fringe.  Ariel was the red head baby whisperer of impressive power.  

Isnt this little girl just the cutest thing ever?


Be kind 

Sol x

p.s. even now when I see the film, I still boo Ursula the sea witch, she expects it of me. ;)

Tuesday 26 January 2016


Heck I used to love this programme.

Anyways on to the bread, I make bread Monday and Thursday, mostly with {this recipe}.  The recipe is for a seeded loaf made with olive oil.  I dont add the honey I add 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar instead if I add the seeds.  If I dont use the seeds I dont bother.  For this one I used a mix pack of sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower.

Using the recipe in the link,  below are the dry ingredients minus the yeast packet.  I used Allinsons this time.  I am not that happy with it, I will return to Doves when this box is finished.  I grind my own sea salt for it, thats it on the top.

I add the yeast packet after I have given the dry ingredients a bit of a whip with the dough hook.  And yes for some unknown reason, I always spread it all over the place and on the top of the dough hook and mixer attachment... The orange bit on the picture below is yeast that I threw about all over and then got wet = Doh! 

I put the water, oil and the sugar I am using into a jug and give it a bit of a whisk with a fork.  Gradually add the water mix whilst the hook is in motion.

 Ta dah!  Dough.  Not Doh!

If too wet add a touch of flour, add less than you think.  Let the hook do its job for the 6 minutes.

Do a little stretch test.

Heavily flour your hands, and drag the dough out, I heap it back into the cereal bowl I measured the flour etc out into.

Pour a little olive oil into the bowl from the mixer, I use a silicone pastry brush to get it all over the sides.  This recipe doesnt ever get to the top of my KitchenAid mixer bowl, but just incase oil all the way up.

Leave to raise for the first 1 hour.  I turned it over in the picture below and bubbles came up on the right.  I give it a couple of bashes with my hands. and then instead of what other people say, I knead/squash it in my hands as I dont want it to take on any more flour, which I would have to if I was to knead on the worktop/bench.  I find extra flour affects the crumb at the end.

Use your hands to stretch the middle out and tuck it under itself, it will naturally form a ball.  I use a sheet of baking parchment, I flour this quite heavy, you can see this in the picture.

Lots of recipes say oil the cling film?  What?  good luck with that, instead lightly brush the dough ball with olive oil.  You will thank me for this tip.  You will waste a lot of cling film the other way as it will cling to you or to the brush.  If proving again in a bowl, use spray oil and squirt the inside of a shower cap you have taken from a hotel :)  Or up end the mixing bowl over the top, your going to have to wash it anyway... My Gran used to use a wet towel drapped over the top.  Each to their own.

Another hour prove and it will look like this.  Smoother.  (When you turn the oven on 20 minutes before the baking, place a container of water in the base of the oven.  I use a ceramic dish I have, with 300ml water in it.  The steam will help to make a nice crust.)

Put in the middle of the oven to bake

And here it is, 30 minutes later.  It must have still been growing as it baked, on the left it is an air bubble.  I will call the bubble, artisan.  LMAO

And there is the crumb.  You can see the pumkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.  Some people may want to dust the top with extra seeds, I dont do this as they tend to burn. I am looking for an even loaf for every day eating, rather than a special looking bread for more elaborate affairs.

I have found this recipe without the seeds, makes 8 nice rolls.  Although probably no good as burger buns.

Do you have a fail safe recipe?  

p.s. I feel like Pioneer Woman with all of the pictures!  lmao

Be kind

Sol x

Monday 25 January 2016


Moon Phase from here

Bought some oca and some jerusalem artichokes at the market in Stroud on Saturday from the organic stall.  I know people usually buy from seed companies, but I saw them and they came home.  I am intrigued by the oca, I have been seeing them and reading about them on other blogs. 

I am giving them a very small whirl, space is an issue, due to pending building works.

Add caption

Waning moon. in the dirt they go.

Grow plenty my pretties.  Grow plenty.

Be kind 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Going to have...

I was reading someone elses blog today, sorry I closed the tab before I could reference to them. If it was you, please leave a comment I will link back to you.  I did leave you a comment...  Hopefully you will follow it back here.

Found it!  It is on the {blog Hill Billy Hobos}

Anyways they linked to this you tube channel.

I am off to the supermarket, and am going to get some lovely big potatoes.   To have Claras twice baked potatoes...  Although I will use olive oil instead of butter.

Has anyone noticed the people who live into their 90's, they eat very little meat.  If you care to google the people who live the longest, eat diets of mostly vegetables, not a lot of dairy.  Eat more potatoes and olive oil I say.  Yum

edit: added this as Clara says exactly what I thought...

Have a great day everyone.

Be kind

Sol x

Monday 18 January 2016


I've talked about my Barnheart before.  I'm not really into the the raising of lots of animals.  At a push if we had the space I would have some chickens and some pigs (to turn the dirt and to sell as a cash crop).  I would do it all for growing veggies and willow.

This house is slowly creeping along and what with all the family here over the past few days for all of the funerals, we have come to recognise that a house bursting at it seams, even at a really sad time is better than an overly quiet house.  Like it is today.  The only noise is the occassional tractor rumbling down the lane and the wood burning stove making its metallic pinging noises from the heat.

My Barnheart, dreams of a home in Devon.  Not too big, not too small.  Maybe with a really large dining room, as I love to cook and feed everyone.  

Everyone is gone now, and I miss the tugs on my legs to help someone or other to the loo, with tricky zippers or buttons for 2 and 3 year olds.  Proclaimations of 4 year olds going on 40, that they are big girls and dont need me to stand outside the door incase they fall in.  (this happened twice, no Kim Kardashian behinds in my family to keep you from falling into the loo).  I miss the little girl hair brushing and special plaits that only Aunty Sol can do.  I miss looking at bird books with little boys and seeing what is at the bird feeders.  To whose go on minecraft it is. I miss, people all helping with the kitchen jobs and the dish washer stacking... I miss the talking in the night, candles and fire burning.  I miss looking around and seeing My people. Yep all gone, for now.

It all steels you.  We have to work harder now to get the house finished in double time, hopefully sell it and find a small house with some land.  I can cope with a small house in a good location and some land.  It will give us the option of adding a larger room later for family shin digs.  I am all for family shin digs.  (Although I hope the youngest girls grow out of the Frozen stage real quick.  Twirling and sassy ass swaying moves, with the screams of the chorus "let it go" have pushed everyone to the edge.)

So I will leave you with Jenna in the above you tube post.  I have been reading about Cold Antler Farm for years, I have all of her books.  I think homesteading is in all of us.

I'm gonna sign off for now and wander all of your lovely blogs.

Be kind

Sol x

Monday 11 January 2016


Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland
I had a nice weekend, I hope you did also.  We stayed at home, busied ourselves with little bits and pieces.  The stove was lit in the evenings, some tea lights on the mantel were flickering.  It was just nice.  Just around the house, it rained heavily both days, and the wind remains strong.  One or two extreme down pours that were like a hose being turned onto the window.  But it only lasted a few minutes.

Other than that we pottered and in the evenings we watch some of the new programme The Man in the High Castle.  Sorry I didnt like it and we wont continue.  Too much violence and graphic for me.  And then there were the bits that just annoyed me.  Last night we watched The 100 Foot Journey.  Very pleasant.  

What have you been up to?  

Friday 8 January 2016

New to Me

Rick Yancey

I was kindly given {The 5th Wave} for Christmas, I am hoping it is going to be a good read.    It is also going to be a film apparently.  Could it be up my street?  Dystopian young adult fiction?  Lets hope so.

I also watched the new TV series {Jericho} last night.  {Hans Matheson} 'pwhoar', he played the bad man in Tess of the D'Ubervilles.

Did you see it?  What did you think?  I think I rather liked it.

What are you reading?

Thursday 7 January 2016

All that Glitters

I bought these trainers when in Vienna and straight away I knew when I could wear them.  Progress is slow at the moment, but I am determined to be ready for Race for Life.

They will probably hurt my feet as I normally exercise or bike in my Nikes, other than Heinz baked beans this is probably the only brand I am faithful to.  You can see I have worn them already but I am not ready for the roads in them yet.

(Sorry it is very hard to photograph glitter.)

If I get a smile and a wave on the day from some people it will be worth the blisters.  Fairy shoes, for sure.  I reckon they will make me go faster!  lol  if only to get it all over with.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Just a saying..

I cant wait for blue skies.  Its very cold here today, apparently Google says it is 4 oC.  Ive been outside trying to fix the compost bin and the leaf mould bins, where the winds have broken them.  My hands are cold and my nails and finger tips are purple.   I thought it was about 2 oC, or at least it feels that way outside.  I've come inside as the light has completely gone.

I found {this website} this morning.  I think these are my two favourite sayings from this page

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. - Sioux

When you die, you will be spoken of as those in the sky, like the stars. - Yurok

I have 3 funerals next week, back to back.  Terribly sad, all lost to cancer, they each valiantly held on over Christmas and passed at the start of the new year.  My thoughts are with my Cousins and their children and my extended family.  The wheel of life keeps turning, but for a long time, there will be huge holes where their light would have been shining.

As my Mum would say, "enough now, love one another".

Be kind my lovelies, be kind.

Sol xxx

Friday 1 January 2016

Hopeful - Long Term Aims

Warning this post contains lots of hope and hopefuls...  OK...

When we finally get planning permission.... more on that another time.  I hope to have solar panels on the roof of the house and on the garage.  For a long time I have been wanting them and hopeful, if the neighbours are favourable, we will have them.  (the house 4 doors down as a hot water system that can be seen from the road so we are hopeful).

When this happens I will be able to get rid of my petrol car and change to an electric one.  We did look at a hybrid car, after Hedgeageddon, but it was a little out of the budget when we knew that we would be lifting the roof on the house and a complete renovation.

I am really letting my Hippy-self show through now.  I dont think I have hidden it, maybe the odd reference to wanting to move to Totnes, a transition town.  Yes, Stroud is really catching up, but we no longer wished to live in that area.  We now live in a village at the top of a hill, yes we get a lot of wind, but Hopefully, our house will not flood. The aim was to move to Oxfordshire, but the prices were just beyond our pockets.

And then there is the gardens.  Front and back.  We have all of the cotswolds stone from the fire place and there will be more from the kitchen walls (thanks to the 60's and 70's decor).  All of this will be Womble-d into my raised beds.  No design for the garden yet as I dont want the builders to wreck what we do.  This will mean that the harder landscaping of the gardens will happen after the roof lift and build.  

Just some of the aims for the coming year(s).  Along with another training course for me.

What are you hoping to do?