Tuesday, 26 November 2013

10 Tips For Buying Your First House

tips on buying your first house
As you may know if you are a regular reader, a month ago yesterday Chris and I moved into our very first house! The last 30 days have sped by, but it has been so lovely to have our own space and I am excited about the ways that we can make it our own.

As fantastic as it is to now be a homeowner, the process of buying a house, can be pretty stressful at times, especially if it is your first!  I knew very little of the process, and we really learnt as we went along, as I suppose most people do, but I thought I would share with you some tips which I learnt along the way, accompanied by some iPhone photos of the big day;

1. Don't settle
If you think you have found 'the house' I would suggest going to view a couple more properties before you take the plunge. If it is the one, then by doing this you will know for certain and never have any doubts. I'd also suggest viewing the property twice before you put in an offer.

2. Ask questions
Make a list of questions to ask on your second visit. Is there anything that could change your mind? Make sure you ask these questions first, but you can also include anything else you are inquisitive about.
first home keys 3. There is no guide book
Seriously, every house purchase is different. Your solicitor won't give you a list of the things that need to happen, nor will they know how long it is going to take (although I gather 3 months is the standard if there are no hold ups).  Prepare to be a little confused. I hated this as there was no check list for me to tick off, you literally just have to wait for the solicitor to send you things to sign.

4. Keep on top of it
Although it is all incredibly difficult to understand, ask your solicitor as many questions as possible and try to take in the answers. Write everything they say down somewhere, or better yet communicate via email so that you have their answers written out for you. For some reason though, solicitors are stuck in the dark ages, and all the documents need to be posted for you to sign. Why on earth they don't just send it to you in an email and get you to print it out I will never know, it would be so much quicker!

5. Get Packing
Start packing your things away gradually once you have found a house. This is a great time to have a good clear out so that you don't move into your new house with a load of old tat (I'm sure you don't have tat, but I did!) Start collecting some boxes together to put everything in, The Co-op does some banana boxes that are just the right size for bits and bobs!
10 things I learnt about buying a house 6. Get Insured
There may be some things you need to know in order to organise you home insurance. First of all check a comparison site using the information that you do have. Then give the cheapest company a ring, and find out all the questions they will ask you (the comparison sites don't ask you everything). You can make sure you ask these on your final viewing (see number 7). Some of the questions that my insurer had me stumped on included;

Are there any trees nearby? How far away are they? Do they overhang the building? How much higher than the building are they?
Do you have any flat roofs on the property
How do the external doors lock? (1 key, yale etc)
Is there an alarm system?
How many fire alarms are there?
Is it in a neighbourhood watch area?
Are there key operated locks on all windows.

If you are fully prepared it means that as soon as you know the sale is definite you can get that insurance purchased! Also, if you are buying the house with a partner, don't forget about life insurance! Ask around and see if any of your friends know a financial advisor you can make an appointment with.

7. Re-inspect the house
Make sure you do one last viewing immediately before exchange just to make sure the house hasn't fallen down! Also, I found this was the perfect time to ask the seller questions about the house such as...

Where is the gas/electricity/water meter?
Where is the stop cock?
Where is the fuse box?
Where is the boiler and how does it work?
Who is you internet/phone/electricity/water supplier?
Who is your current home insurance company?
Can you show us how the cooker works?
Who do you currently get your house insured with?
What day does the bin man come?
8. Get Organised
The moment you have exchanged contracts, which will often be about a week before the move, get ready to do some manic phoning around.  The most important things you will want to sort out are the following;

Gas and Electric
Water Company
Home insurance

The most essential for us was the internet, since we work from home and all of it is done online. I organised for a man from virgin media to come in the afternoon, and by 2pm we had fully working internet and phone line (even if we didn't actually have a phone itself).

I called British Gas to inform them we would be moving into the property, and I sorted out my payment plan.  The man on the phone told me he would ring me on the day so that I could give him our gas and electricity meter readings. He also gave me a number to quote if he couldn't get through to me. I also did the same with Southern water.

If you are a first time buyer like I was, you may need things like a fridge or a TV. I had organised for the TV to be delivered the day we moved in, and the fridge the day after.  We were able to do this because the seller had already moved out, so there wasn't that awkward swap over on the day, waiting for them to move their stuff out. If this isn't the case for you, I would suggest getting things delivered on the day after, unless you can get an evening delivery.

9. Get your details changed as soon as you have exchanged
You will need to change the address on a lot of things, so if you have time it really makes sense to do as much as possible before you move. Our new driving licences actually arrived the day we moved in! Write a list of all the things you will need to change, here are some things to consider;

Driving licence
All banks and building societies
Student loan company
Any magazine subscriptions

10. Pack like a pro
Make sure your essentials are easily accessible. For me this was all the tea and coffee supplies including the kettle, as well as the cleaning products. Since we only lived about a 10 minute drive away Chris ferried all of our things to the house using our camper van. Meanwhile I cracked on with the cleaning!

It is a real learning curve that is for sure, but if you take these tips into consideration it will make life just that little bit easier. Thanks to my friend Kate who gave me lots of handy hints as she moved into her house about 2 months before us. I'm not sure I would have been quite as organised had she not been there telling me what I should do!

Do you have any tips you can add for those buying a new home?
Laura xXx

Read More

Thursday, 21 November 2013

DIY Chocolate Protein Bar Recipe

protein brownie recipe
Since we moved into the new house we have joined the local gym. I am being very good and have been going regularly 3 times a week. I've really noticed it making a difference, and it has been helpful having one on one sessions with a trainer.

The usual routine is to go at about 11am and then be back in time for a nice lunch full of protein, which  is usually an omelette. Or if not we will sometimes have a protein shake to help repair our muscles.  But, I know that you should really have protein BEFORE you work out too, which I have not been so good at. I normally only have a smoothie for breakfast as I don't get particularly hungry until later, but this can sometimes leave me slightly less energetic than I otherwise would be.

The other day I was speaking with my friend about protein bars and which ones were good. Then she suggested that I could make my own! I thought this was a brilliant idea as Chris has tons of protein powder that I could use as a base. So, the next day I set to work trying out some recipes.

First of all I tried out a sort of protein cake recipe which If found here. The main ingredients in this were chocolate protein powder, oat flour and apple sauce (which I made myself simply by stewing some apples with a dash of water for about 30 minutes.)

It was a little bit of a strange consistency and taste, not quite like anything I had had before. Having said that it was definitely edible and it was one of those things that the more you eat the more you like it! I did have a bit of an issue with it sticking to the cake tin though, which resulted in lots of half portions being served. Whoops!
protein cake recipe
Next I decided I wanted to make more of a brownie rather than a cake. I found a recipe here that looked really good. The main ingredients in this were black beans and protein powder, lots of protein there! It also had the addition of chocolate chips, which I was really not adversed to!
recipe for a chocolate chip protein brownie
I have to say this was absolutely delicious! I think it was helped along a lot by the chocolate chips, and I know that they are not particularly healthy, but it is totally worth it. Plus, the rest of the brownie is all goodness, so why not tray yourself a little? Plus, they say dark chocolate is good for you in small amounts! It is really yummy after being heated up too!

I will definitely be making this again! I will probably try to find some tinned black turtle beans though,  rather than the dried ones I had, as that will save me a lot of time and hassle!

What food do you eat to stock up your protein levels before and after exercise?

Laura xXx

Read More

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Pink and Silver Chevron Nails

nail art - silver chevron design
It's  been a little while since I did a nail art post. Don't worry, I'm still obsessed with painting them pretty colours, I have just been forgetting to take photos!

I dug out an incredibly old silver Sally Hansen nail varnish for this, which I am pretty sure I have had for over a decade, but it still works just fine!

I painted my nails a base coat of pink a couple of days before finishing the final pattern. I tried a different technique by putting the nail sticker in the middle of the nail, rather than at the top, and it turned out rather better than I expected, giving a bit of a neon chevron vibe. Who doesn't love chevrons?
chevron nail art
  • Rimmel London 60 Seconds Nail Varnish in Rose Libertine
  • Silver nail varnish by Sally Hansen (pretty sure they don't sell this any more!)
  • Nail stickers - Number 4
  • Seche Vite top coat

What do you think?

Laura xXx
Read More

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A day in the life...

I was hoping to go to Renegade on Sunday, but unfortunately I found that it would take me about 4 hours to get there in total on the train, so in the end I gave up. I wish I had planned a full weekend in london earlier on, but at least now I will know for next year!

So instead I decided sunday would be a lazy day, but unfortunately we had a bit of a plumbing issue. Our toilet decided it was going to spring a leak, so Chris spent a lot of the day dealing with that. Yuck.

Anyway, here are some photos of the less disgusting parts of the day, just chilling out in our new house.

Of course a cup of tea always starts a sunday off right, and it is becoming tradition that we now drink it from our mating VW Camper mugs.
I caught up on some blog reading first thing, this is the view from our study window looking out at the big oak tree that overhangs our garden.
Our cupboards were looking rather bare, and we didn't have any gluten free bread (which is the only kind Chris is supposed to eat.) So instead I found this Sophie Dahl recipe for buckwheat blinis and scrambled eggs.  It was very handy since I already had buckwheat in the cupboard!
After breakfast I spotted a feline friend out of our kitchen window, so I followed him round to the back garden.  Cats seem to like it near our house because we are on the edge of a mini woods, I guess there are lots of things for them to chase and play with in there! I have seen 2 other cats doing a similar thing, but this one actually came into our garden for quite a while. Isn't he beautiful!? I was quite taken with him.

After toilet fixing had been completed, we went for a coffee with our friends. It's great that we now have 2 sets of friends that live within walking distance, and there are also shops, restaurants and coffee shops we can walk to as well!
For dinner I made salmon fishcakes using this recipe. What I liked about it was all of the 'super-food' ingredients that make up the cake. Salmon, quinoa and sweet potato, along with lots of yummy herbs. I've never used tinned salmon before but it was certainly more convenient than having to cook it first! All of the ingredients are things that I can have stored in my cupboard, so I think I will be making this one again!

Then we indulged in a Baileys Irish Cream, whilst watching Come Dine With Me. Perfect sunday TV!
Whats that? you want to see another picture of the cat? Oh, go on then!...
How was your sunday?

Laura xXx

Read More

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Smoothies and Supplements

udo's choice oil supplement
Healthy eating is something that is really important to me. I'm not saying I don't like my fair share of treats (hello Ben and Jerry's cookie dough ice cream!) but at the same time I am quite conscious of making sure I get enough of the right things in my diet.

Nearly every day I will start the morning with a green smoothie. I am always trying to think of new healthy things to add to this, so I was really happy when Detox.Me got in touch and asked if I would like to review their Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend.

green smoothieThis oil blend contains a huge array of good for you oils, and provides Omega 3, 6 and 9. The product is suitable for vegans, so I guess this would be a great way for anyone who doesn't eat fish to get their  omega 3 in! 

Some of the benefits Udo's choice can provide includes; healthy glowing skin, gain of energy, weight loss, reduction of inflammation, muscle soreness and reduction in the risk of heart disease and lubricates joints. As well as being great for enhancing your sporting performance the natural way. Sounds good to me!

I have been adding a little of this to my green smoothie every morning, and I have found it incredibly easy to include into my diet that way. I haven't noticed that it makes it taste any different either which is great! You can also mix it with pasta, drizzle it over vegetables, put it in porridge and use it to make your own dressings. Although you are advised not to heat it as it greatly reduces the nutritional value of the oils.

If you are interested in improving your diet, I would highly recommend investing in a blender and getting into the habit of having a smoothie everyday. Its such an easy way to make sure you are getting your 5 a day, as well as introducing some supplements like Udo's choice with minimal effort.

Want some inspiration for smoothie ideas? Check out some of my favourites below!

watercress, blueberry and pineapple smoothie

mango, banana and goji berry smoothie

pina colada smoothie

What do you like to add to your smoothies?

Laura xXx

Disclaimer - The product mentioned above was sent to me free of charge, however all opinions given are my own.

Read More

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Living Room

Our living room is looking pretty bare at the moment, as you can see from the pictures, but it has got great potential! The walls are white so it's a nice blank canvas to work with, and I like that it has floor boards instead of a carpet.  

There are two windows and a pair of patio doors into the conservatory, but despite this the room is still quite dark, because this side of the house is surrounded by a little woodland area, and the trees overhang the house. There are pro's and con's to that I guess; con -  being terrified the trees would fall onto our house the other day during the mega storm, pro - the lovely view and feeling of privacy we get, even though we live in a pretty built up area. 

Anyway, luckily the lamp in the room is super bright, so that helps to solve the darkness problem. The other thing will be to get less heavy curtains.

The sofas we currently have are both ancient, and I am looking forward to buying a proper, comfortable sofa soon.

We have decided that the colour scheme we are going to go for in this room is grey and yellow! I am quite excited to be tearing myself away from the mints and turquoises I have been obsessed with of late.
The plan is to get a nice grey sofa, and pepper it with pretty yellow cushions. I'd also like to get a single chair, perhaps in yellow fabric or a pattern.  I think I am going to try painting the fireplace grey, and I will definitely be getting new bright curtains, as the ones we have at the moment  are quite heavy, and make the room feel darker than it needs to be. I'm also dying to get a nice fluffy grey rug, as it is a little bit cold with no carpet at all. 

I am hoping I can pick up a coffe table on one of my dump trips, which I might paint to go with the colour scheme if it is a bit battered. I also want to find a wooden corner unit with drawers that the TV will fit on. I'd like to be able to hide our games and dvd's inside.

I found the glass display cabinet, pictured below, on one of my previous dump trips. I believe it cost me £8. It was a bit worse for wear at the time so I gave it a lick of paint to spruce it up a bit!  I'm not sure if it will fit with the new colour scheme, so I may have to re-pain it, or it might find its way to the spare bedroom.living room tour
Here is a little collage of things I have found which I think would look great together. I think we are going for a bit of a 60's vibe. I can't wait to start putting this into action!
Dream living room - grey and yellow

What do you think? Are you a fan of grey and yellow? Have you seen any furniture or accessories about that would match my colour scheme? I'd love to know if you have!

Laura xXx

Read More

Friday, 1 November 2013

October Review

In Life

Well this has been a pretty big month in terms of life changes, we finally moved into our very first house! You can read a bit about our house hunting experience here. I'm going to be talking lots more about it soon I am sure. I'm currently a bit addicted to Pinterest, getting inspiration for decoration and finding DIY's!

What We Watched

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs - Cute film, the monkey was my favourite!
Hansel and Gretel - Terrible film, need I say more?
Carrie (the original) - We watched this to get us in the mood for halloween. I read the book a little while back so I remembered most of what would happen. Undoubtedly it is a weird book/film, but I thought Sissy Spacek did a great job playing Carrie, and I wasn't expecting to see John Travolta!

We finally watched the last episode of Breaking Bad, which I thought was done really well! It's nice to see a TV show that ties up all the loose ends!  Walking dead is back, hurrah! Although I kind of forgot how scary this can  be! I've also been enjoying Once Upon A Time. Oh, and we've also been watching The Wrong Mans, which I think is great!

What I Read

This month I decided to take the plunge into teen literature.
The Hunger Games - I really thought this was a fantastic book. I have seen the film but I definitely appreciate it more now that I have read the book.
Catching Fire - This was fantastic too, although I felt that the ending was a little bit hurried. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the final book which I am reading at the moment.
Twilight - I was keen to find out what all the fuss was about this book. I found that it was an easy read but not a huge amount seemed to be happening. Evidently all the action had been left until the very end of the book. I'll crack on with the second one soon and see what I think of that.

My Favourite Posts

Read More
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Powered by Blogger.

© 2011 Wrapped Up In Rainbows, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena