06 October 2015

Moving house is a bitch: update


A little while ago I wrote about the stress of selling our house.  I used it as a bit of a outlet for my frustrations and anger at our situation at that time. I should have probably explained a little better, all the ups and downs...

25 February 2015 - we were outgrowing our little cottage, even with just the two of us so we had two choices, we could either stay and spend some money doing it up, maybe adding an extension to make it bigger.  Or we could sell up and buy something with a bit more space.  We decided to do just that so before putting our house on the market we started searching for our perfect home.

It didn't take us long to find a perfect three bed semi detached house in a quiet little village.  We were certain that this was the house for us so put in an offer which was agreed with the condition that we had a buyer for our house. 

23 March 2015 -  our house was officially listed on the market and it wasn't long before the endless number of viewings started to appear in the diary. Two weeks later we were in a great position, had a couple of asking price offers and it was just a case of choosing which buyer was in a better position. We opted for the first time buyers, no house to sell - much easier! A quick call to the estate agent confirmed our purchase of our 'dream home'.  We added the condition that completion date must be after 3rd August so that we we rent charged a redemption penalty.  They weren't over the moon with this but agreed nonetheless.

5 June 2015 - we regretted that decision immensely. A survey they had done on the house came out with the most ridiculous results. Apparently our house had a major damp issue, the boiler needed replacing immediately and there were faults with the electrics which would plant images in anyone's minds of the whole place blowing up at the flick of a switch! 

By the way just to set the record straight, our house has zero damp (you wouldn't have even been able to take a reading in the room with the alleged issue), the boiler is just old and perfectly safe and the electrics were also working fine they just needed a bit of an update. Also, I am pretty certain I would expect a lot worse from a house that was built in 1865!

5 June 2015 (4 hours later) - have no fear! we were totally unaware that we had a very very interested buyer waiting in the wings ready to pounce if for any reason the sale fell through.  She immediately gave us the full asking price offer when she heard it was going to be relisted.  We were so happy with our new buyer.  She was aware of all the issues that came up on the survey and she really wasn't that fussed about them.  Her chain was also complete and ready to get moving so we were under the impression that the August move in was still achievable.

August 2015 - this is where it all started going a bit pete-tong. The initial agreed move in date of that first week in August came and went and there were endless issues arising from down the chain.  One estate agent was refusing to talk to any of the others so no one really knew what was happening.  There was a lot of hold ups and a lot of broken promises. Each week throughout the whole of August and a good part of September we heard that we would 'definitely be exchanging this week' only to be left disappointed come Friday. This when on for what seemed like forever.

September 2015 - our dream home was relisted.  The owners got tired of waiting and had realised that their property was now worth a lot more than what they sold it for.  They had also taken out a bridging loan in order to not lose the house they were buying so were a bit desperate for either more money to cover the cost or a quick completion.

It didn't look like their house was getting much attention so they took it off the market with their current agents and relisted at a much higher price with a competitor.  Our chain were finally all ready to exchange when they gave us all an ultimatum - either we complete by the 2nd October or they were going to pull out. Before we knew it, they asked for our contracts back. The sale was officially off. We presumed that they had had a higher offer but we never really found out. We were devastated but in a way felt some relief as after 6 weeks of living out of boxes we could unpack and feel a bit more relaxed.

October 2015 - we didn't have time to feel too relaxed as we found the PERFECT house and had our offer accepted.  The saying is true that everything happens for a reason because after losing that first house, we had realised that actually we would like to be in a more built up area and a location close to schools, train stations and shops. We were also able to increase our budget as after 5 months, our house had gone up in value by 15k.  We are super excited about our new home. Hopefully this purchase will go through a lot quicker and with far fewer problems.

Once we are in and settled I will post a little 'new home house tour' and keep you updated with the work we plan to do.








17 September 2015

Birthday treats



I can't believe how quickly my birthday has come around this year - it's crazy to think that it is September already. It seems like just yesterday that I was celebrating my 26th with friends and family in my back garden. 

Since we are desperately trying to save all the money we can for our house move I suggested a low key birthday this year.  I just wanted the day off work in all honesty! 

It kicked off to a great start, breakfast and a cup of tea in bed (nothing beats it). Then, as tradition goes, I donned my dressing gown and slippers and opened my cards and pressies in the living room. I always want to open them in bed but hubby insists on the living room. We always decorate it for eachother's birthdays - balloons, confetti and banners everywhere - so I supposed it makes sense to make use of it. 



I wanted to have a little mooch around London so we hopped on the train and completely underestimated the cost of a travel card (£21 each off peak!).  Over the last few years we have been slowly moving further and further away from London and so visiting the city is more of a big deal to us (and more expensive).  

So anyway, after watching the latest 'Night at the Museum' film we've both wanted to go to the British Museum (where the film is set), so that's what we did! It is only a short walk from Euston Station so we were there in no time. The building is really spectacular and oh my god, so big! It took us hours to go round the whole place making sure we didn't miss any rooms, we even had to have a break mid way through to rest our feet and refuel. The museum is really spectacular and is full of basically everything that makes up the history of mankind. 

I always wish I had taken more photos but I just never remember to whip out my camera and to be honest, I would rather enjoy the moment and take everything in than spend the whole time looking through a lens. I particularly wanted to snap a shot of the museum's spectacular exterior.  Really crazy to see such a beautiful building that looked like it belonged in ancient Greece sitting in the middle of a bustling London street. But it was tipping it down when we left and we were just too focused on making it to the tube station to stop.

We were absolutely starving when we finished making our way round the endless rooms at the museum and were about to keel over so we got the tube to Covent Garden and headed straight for Pizza Express (my fav!).  I think it must have been because I have been eating so healthy recently and have barely touched bread that my pizza tasted god damn amazeballs. It was the best pizza I've ever had I think!  All this stupid healthy eating is really making me appreciate the taste of the food I've been missing that I would have totally taken for granted before. I even had a sneaky Peroni with my meal.. shhh!

After a day spent running through the rain we were desperate to get into some dry clothes and rest our feet so we went home before rush hour hit, changed into our cozy's and watched a film. A perfect end to a perfect day.


Oh, and no birthday is complete without Colin the Caterpillar!

xxx

14 September 2015

Healthy beginnings


Back in January I wrote this post detailing my resolutions for the year. The first and most important promise was to look after my health. I have always been a bit relaxed when it comes to my health and well being. I have never had any real problems so could never grasp the importance of being aware of the state of my body. 

One of the biggest changes I have made this year is my diet. I have always been one of those really lucky and probably really annoying people that have been able to eat and eat and eat and not put on a single pound.  I took advantage of this and ate so much junk food but when I turned 18 and started uni it started to catch up with me. I slowly put on a few pounds and to be honest, I was loving it! I always wanted to gain a little weight as being a stick thin rake just wasn't attractive to me.  However, I made a promise to myself that if I ever got to a point that I felt just a little bit uncomfortable in a bikini, I would stop living the good life and start watching what I ate. 

Sadly, that time has come.

The final push that led me to my new healthy eating was a conversation I had a few weeks ago when we were sorting out our new life insurance policy with our mortgage advisor. He asked me what I currently weighed, to which I sheepishly obliged to answer. I couldn't stop myself asking him what I answered to the same question two years ago. When he told me I weighed 9 lbs lighter back then I was a little shocked.  I know that doesn't sound like much to a lot of people but to me, someone who struggled to gain a single pound for the majority of her life, it felt like a bombshell. 

I never really thought that we ate that badly. I have always cooked every dinner from scratch and avoided too many take aways and pizzas, We ate okay (so I thought). But it wasn't until I became a little obsessed with analyzing what it was I was cooking and eating that I realised it was all the little hidden ingredients and things I wouldn't even think twice about scoffing at my desk that were doing the real damage. It was that pot of cream and the block of cheddar cheese I used to make my pasta bake and the daily packet of crisps, oh and not forgetting the endless amounts of coke we got through on a weekly basis. 

I had heard so much about the in-laws' massive weight loss on the Slimming World diet and so asked for their advice.  They gave us all the information we would need in the form of about a million books. We read into this diet and it did sound pretty straight forward and made so much sense. Basically just making sure that you ate a very simple mixed balanced diet. As we started on this 'diet' and were counting 'syns' here there and everywhere we became a little frustrated. I don't enjoy counting and weighing and measuring each and every little thing I consume and so this element of the diet annoyed me. I decided we were going to take the concept of this new way of eating and forget about the minor details.

It really is just a few little changes that make the most difference. I don't want to drastically lose 10lbs in a week. I plan to adopt this new healthy eating way of life, being conscious of what I eat and limiting myself to just a couple of treats a day.  Hopefully I will be my desired weight by our next summer holiday. Plenty of time! 

xxx


10 September 2015

Happiness


You may remember a post I wrote a while ago about a book I read which changed my outlook on life and helped me out of quite a dark place. A place that I have never really talked about on this blog before. Probably because I want to fill it with uplifting, happy, fluffy things, but what I went through was life and a very common struggle for a lot of us. I am pleased to say that my new positive outlook hasn't faltered and I am currently in a very content happy place. A stark contrast to what I was feeling back then and I just can't believe how far I have come.

I am going to talk about 'that time' but I am not going to fill this post with everything that happened to cause me to feel the way I did and I am not going to go into every little detailed symptom I felt. I want to talk about what helped pull me through, one thing person in particular. This is a story of happiness, not sadness after all.

When I think back to how I used to feel at my worst, I shudder. I was being sucked in to this downward spiral of negativity and not even the closest people to me could help bring me out. Unfortunately depression is something only the sufferer can fix and only at the point when they realize what it is and admit defeat. All it takes is that tiny piece of willingness to do something about it, to pick up the phone and ask for help.

I also look back at that time with fresh new eyes.  I still see myself scrunched up in a ball on the sofa not wanting to move for anything, or to utter a single word. But as I look back now, I also see that man in the background.  The man who never got frustrated at my silence, who never got tired of my despondence, who never stopped trying to lift me up even when there was no hope. 

Living with me must have felt like living alone. I was an empty shell who wasn't communicating in any way. He probably dreaded coming home, and I don't blame him, but he never let it show. He was so strong and although it probably didn't seem like it then I am so thankful for that. I am so thankful for everything he did for me because without him I don't think I would have been able to pick myself up and get myself some help. He simply understood. And that is exactly what I needed.

I also feel a huge amount of guilt that I put him through such misery. It can't have been easy for him to see me so unhappy and feel completely helpless. He is the sort of person who would help anyone who needed it, and to feel like he couldn't do anything to help me must have been difficult.

I want him to know that he did help me. Just by being there and by showing me that he understood helped me immensely. He also took control of all the housework and cooking, something I couldn't possibly think of doing. Then when I started to get a little better, and came round to the idea of leaving the house he took me to the places he knew I loved. He motivated me to get out, sometimes just for a little walk for some fresh air. He escalated my recovery by being his silly self and making me laugh when I had a little dip and simply offering to cook if I had a bad day.

People suffering with a mental illness such as depression will often hear things like 'just pull yourself together' or 'stop feeling sorry for yourself'. A lot of people just don't understand what depression is. They think that if they cannot see any physical symptoms then there nothing is wrong . They will say 'Oh yeah I felt depressed before', when really they were just sad or a bit blue. Depressed is a word that gets thrown around way too often.  If you haven't experienced it, you will never truly know how it feels.  

If you are struggling with a mental illness, however severe, it is so important to have someone in your life that just understands. You don't need them to do anything, you just need to know someone can relate to what you are going through, someone who can totally comprehend that it is an illness, a disease and not something you can just switch off.

I have never had a problem with talking about my experience with depression. It is something that I am actually quite thankful for. Without going through it all, without feeling as bad as I did I wouldn't appreciate the way I feel today. I have learnt to find happiness in the smallest of things, just being able to wake up in the morning and get out of bed is one of them! I have been brought to a place where two years ago I never thought I would be. Not just content but extremely happy. I am also so much more aware of my thoughts and feelings.  I can recognize those dangerously negative ones a mile off and I can now stop them dead in their tracks. I don't think I ever felt this way even before my depression so I am thankful that what I went through helped me in more ways I could ever imagine.

I was lucky enough to have someone in my life that gave me his full support and stuck by me through the really rough days, someone to give me that little push I needed to finally admit defeat, stand up and do something about it, myself. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky as I am and the whole stigma surrounding mental illness needs to end. This may be something I delve into a little deeper in a separate post but simply put, it is not okay.

I wasn't intending this post to be so long but it seems as though I have more to say on the subject than I first thought!  


08 September 2015

Winter 'firsts'

This morning was a morning of 'firsts'.

I woke up feeling tired instead of refreshed. It was noticeably darker outside. Too dark to do my make up properly. I wore a jumper and put on a coat. I felt a chill when I left the house. I saw my breath as I closed the front door. I used my headlights. I turned the car heater to the 'foot' option. I got stuck in all the back to school traffic.

Looks like Autumn is on its way!

06 September 2015

One of those days..

As soon as September arrived last week it felt like summer had officially ended and autumn had set in.  Temperatures plummeted and the rain arrived. I made peace with the fact that we haven't really had a proper Summer this year (when do we ever get one of those in the UK) and have started to look forward to Autumn. We lit our first fire the other day and I even unearthed my boots, jumpers and coats in anticipation!

But today was one of those days. After a week of crappy, miserable rain and cold you give up hope only for the sun to suddenly come out in full force. We tried to make the most of it so popped into Tring for a little coffee date in the sun. You just never know when we will get another day like today. Especially one on a weekend when we are both off work together!

Just half an hour of complete peace and quiet in the gorgeous Tring Memorial Garden was all we needed to get our fix of sunshine (and coffee).



However, as much as I love the sun, I wish it would make up its mind. It is so difficult to know how to dress for this weird extreme weather. I am secretly wishing for Autumn so I can commit to jumpers, jeans and boots.

xxx

04 September 2015

Moving house is a bitch!

People have always said to me 'moving house is one of the most stressful things you will do'. I always thought they were wrong. Moving into our current home was an absolute breeze, but that was because we were first time buyers and were moving from a rented flat. But now I know exactly what they meant. Selling a house is the most stressful thing you will do!

Oh dear god, it is so much worse when you have a property to sell. You start thinking about chains, about what kind of buyer you want to attract.  You have to think long and hard about offers that come in making sure not to pounce at the first bite. Then when you have the perfect buyer for your property (full asking price, first time buyers) they pull out of the sale at the last minute leaving you at square one!

That's not all. As the process starts to come to and end and you box up your whole home in anticipation of that call to say you have exchanged, life likes to throw in another curve ball just to make things interesting.  You are stuck in a limbo stage not knowing what is going on, panicking because the house you are buying has been relisted, panicking that someone could potentially pull out of the chain, panicking that at the very last moment it could all fall through. 

And that is where we currently are with our house sale.  In limbo. We have a house full of packed boxes with hardly anywhere to move.  Just waiting for the call.  And this is where we have been for the last 3 weeks. When will it end?

ARGHHH

xxx

03 September 2015

A little hiatus

It has been just about 4 months since my last post and I am coming back feeling very refreshed.  I took a little break to gain a some breathing space in my life. Blogging slowly became something I never really intended it to - a chore.  It no longer felt like a hobby to me so I pulled the plug.

If you are a fellow blogger you must already know, it's so easy to become obsessed with stats, so easy to compare your blog with much bigger very successful ones and with all the advice out there on how to make blogging into a business it's hard not to get sucked in.

I am coming back to a much calmer, more relaxed way of blogging - much like how it was in the beginning. There will be no scheduled posts, probably no consistent blog series and a lot less stress!

I'm not going to be fixated on my blog stats, I won't even look at them! I don't care how many people are reading my blog, I am writing for ME.  This is something I want to look back on over the years with fondness and laugh (or cry) at my memories.


A few snaps from my Instagram feed - just to fill in on those missing 4 months. 
As well as giving blogging a break, I also minimized the amount of time I gave to social media so I haven't documented too much in all honesty. Mostly just pictures of the cats and my little Reggie. 
But over the last summer I have:

Grown my hair quite long
Then cut my hair really short
Taken a few (not enough) country walks
Sold our house
Bought a new house!
Done a little upcycling
Started making digital prints
...only to give it up a couple of months later
Helped my Mum start up a little Etsy shop Laura's Love Letters
Had a fancy night out at Luton Hoo Hotel
Packed... a lot! (house move is imminent!)
Met the Gruffalo at Wendover Woods
Had loads of Reggie cuddles
Gave up on the British Summer weather
Desperately longed for a holiday abroad by the sea
Caught up with long lost friends and family

I'm not really sure what's to come, 
I'm winging it - without a plan.

xxx


13 May 2015

Lifestyle: 10 'kick you up the arse' motivational quotes


There are times in all our lives where we need a little extra boost to get us through whatever it is we are struggling with.  Whether that is a mental block during a big project, getting over a messy break up or just coping with whatever life throws at you, sometimes just a few words of wisdom will help you through.

So I have compiled 10 of my favourite quotes that have helped me and hopefully will help you too, should you need it.

1. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up and never give up - Regina Brett

2. Don't look back, you're not going that way - unknown

3. Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end - unknown

4. What if I fail? Oh but my darling, what if you fly? - Erin Hanson

5. The expert at anything, was once a beginner - Helen Hayes

6. Sometimes you got to just pull up your big girl pants and do it, whether you want to or not - unknown

7. Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear - George Addair

8. Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid - Albert Einstein

9. Always go with your passions, never ask yourself if it's realistic or not - Deepak Chopra

10.  Great things never came from comfort zones - unknown.

09 May 2015

Fashion: 20 must have spring/summer dresses

One of my favourite things about the changing seasons is the chance to completely re-organise my wardrobe.  It is around this time of year that I haul everything out and have a complete clear up. I make piles of things to give away, things to store for next season and things I want to keep. I love having a refreshed wardrobe ready for a new season and I can't wait to fish out my strappy tops, mini shorts and of course, summer dresses!

Must have Spring/Summer ASOS dresses




So this week I have been searching high and low for a dress to wear for a wedding and after looking through old clothes and finding nothing I wanted to wear I took to trusty ASOS to see if I could grab something online.

I started to 'save' one dress after another and I soon lost track of what I was looking for! I checked back to my saved dresses and realised there were so many that I wanted I compiled them into this post.

My 20 must have dresses for Spring/Summer. Not all of these would be suitable for a wedding but perfect for chilled out sunny Sunday afternoons at the pub or by the BBQ.

xxx

Nicola Bhamra

05 May 2015

Our Wedding: Part Three, Dinner and Party

wedding day blog,

Continued from 'Our Wedding: Part Two'...

Once the formalities of the ceremony and official photos were over it was time to really relax and enjoy the company of all our closest friends and family.  We wanted a small wedding and had just 40 guests.  To be honest, if we could have we would have tied the knot abroad with just immediate family!

I remember at dinner I couldn't eat a thing. Not because I wasn't hungry, I was starving! But because my dress was so god damn tight, sucking in all my lumps and bumps. I think I managed to eat part of my starter and a glass of champagne, what a waste of time it was spending a whole day trying to pick out our wedding menu!  But it looked like everyone else enjoyed the food so I guess it was worth it..

We decided to give our guests options for their dinner... big mistake! We had a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts.  It was such a nightmare getting back everyone's menu options in advance and it just added to the stress of organizing such a big event. I suppose it was nice that everyone got to eat what they wanted but honestly, just stick to soup, chicken and a lemon tart.

bride and groom, wedding flowers, wedding dress, groom wedding suit

Reception wedding breakfast decorations, flowers, table, candelabra

We had the most amazing flowers on our wedding day.  I wanted the venue to be completely filled with them, on every table, mantle piece and window ledge. I went with a vintage rose theme and Ryan at Love Flowers picked out the best ones he could get his hands on.  He was so fantastic, I literally told him the kind of look I wanted and left him to it. He worked his creative magic and put together a gorgeous mix of roses, orchids, peonies and even rosemary. Plus he is a close friend of the family so was able to ensure they looked great throughout the whole day. Thank you Ryan!

wedding reception breakfast dinner groom bride speech wedding flowers

groom wedding speech best man

wedding hair bridesmaids wedding makeup bridesmaid dress

wedding reception dinner breakfast bride and groom

best man gift present gift bag wedding

bridesmaid gift present gift bag wedding

wedding favours, coasters, bath stone, ribbon

I wanted to make a lot of the wedding decor myself and we bought some of those DIY sets for the invites and table seating plan.  After spending soooo many hours (days), and completely ruining my hands with glue putting all the components together I made the swift decision to just buy the rest of the wedding stuff. 

I went straight to Etsy (my absolute favourite) and began searching through their endless wedding category. I bought quite a lot from Etsy in the end. The thank you bags, cards, gift tags, the bridesmaids' ivory silk sashes, my earrings, the table numbers and guestbook sign!

Our wedding favours were personalised engraved Bath stone coasters which were made by Dan's cousin (you can find his online shop here). We wanted something a little different to the usual sugared almonds, and something each guest could take away as a memento from the day so these were perfect. We still use ours two years on!

After a lovely (well it did look lovely) dinner and some pretty funny speeches it was time to cut the cake. We did the usual typical photos here; pretending to stab Dan with the huge cake knife and feeding each other pieces of cake etc.  

Since we had such a small wedding we made up for it in evening guests and we wanted them to experience some of the little traditions that most weddings have (since they missed out on the biggies like the ceremony and speeches). We invited them all a little earlier so they could see the cutting of the cake and the throwing of the bridal bouquet. Oh, and the first dance..

wedding cake, wedding topper, wedding flowers

Wedding cake, roses, vintage wedding

cutting the cake, wedding, bride and groom, wedding dress, hairband, bridal

wedding cake, cutting the cake, bride and groom, wedding dress, wedding flowers

Dan chose our first dance song and it was one that I hadn't heard before.  I remember months before the big day we were going through so many typical songs that we just didn't feel any connection to.

When he played me Brad Paisley 'She's everything' it all just clicked, I think I even shed a little tear!  I loved that it was a song that most people hadn't heard before and probably only a few people had chosen as their first dance song.

wedding, first dance, bride and groom, wedding dress

bride and groom, first dance, wedding, wedding dress

bride and groom, wedding dress, first dance

wedding, guests, party, dancing

wedding, bridesmaid, bride, bridesmaid, dancing, party, wedding dress

wedding, dancing, dance, party, wedding dress

wedding, bride and groom, dancing

We had such a great evening, not worrying about what we looked like for the photos, just really relaxed. Of course we had to mingle a bit and we spent a long time greeting guests, making sure we got round everybody and introducing countless people to one another.

However, I spent the majority of the night on the dance floor, busting moves to all the songs we love. I remember going hours without seeing Dan (he's not much of a dancer) but I managed to pull him onto the dance floor a few times.

The photographer and videographers stayed really late and just before they left we managed to get a couple of last minute shots in - thank god I had my sister (the make up artist) there to touch up my face for the evening!

wedding, bride and groom, photo, fountain

wedding, bride and groom, photo, fountain

I have absolutely loved writing this mini series on our wedding day, reminiscing over the day's events and remembering all of my thoughts and feelings. This really and truly was the best day of my life, I married my best friend and soul mate and I am so thankful I have such lovely photos and videos from the day to remember each tiny little detail.

Thank you to Dan, for being the best fiance helping me to plan such a lovely day, and supporting me through the hardest time in my life in the week leading up to it. And for being an even more amazing husband, doing so much for me, picking me up when I am down and sticking by me through thick and thin. 

Words cannot describe how thankful I am to have him in my life.

Happy Anniversary Hubster, I love you more than life itself.

And on that note, here is the highlights video I promised you.. 


xxx

Nicola Bhamra