The extension – in the dry

And then it was June!

No one tells you that extensions suck time. They make entire months disappear in a flurry of aching limbs and Gibbs and Dandy deliveries.

Extensions also suck money. They eek every last penny you have from your savings – and then some.

But May has been super productive, if slightly exhausting. The two bank holidays were brilliantly timed – and the glorious weather an absolute godsend. In fact the weather has been playing nice since we started – we’ve only had one or two afternoons that have been rained off.

Last update we had got the roof on but no doors. And ta-dah – here’s where we are now.
The extension progress

(Excuse the dodgy photography and lack of cropping – but I was so tired I could barely press the clicker on the camera!)

Nice huh?

There was a comedy moment when the doors were fitted by the manufactures out of level!!!!!!! They were then taken out and refitted. But I can laugh about it now!

Once we were fully dry we decided to make the most of the summer and focus on the rest of the external work. The inside is fairly clean and not affecting the rest of Casa Jones so it’s staying as is for a while. No sofa or paint picking for me just yet!

So through May we’ve been laying all of the pipework and drainage – dull but important. As well as digging off the old grassed area ready for the patio. We’ve talked about doing a patio for the last 3 years and have never got round to doing it – I now know why! It is hard work. Physically tough and dirty. And slow. And expensive. But it’s going to look great!

Mr J has been getting the cladding onto the extension and I think it looks fabulous – I’ve got a soft spot for this Siberian Larch let me tell you! It can be painted but we’re going to leave it and see how it weathers.

So that’s my little May round-up. We’ve made great progress and are thrilled – if drained. I’ve never spent so much time outside and have started to develop ruddy, farmer-style skin! I ache constantly but have totally mastered the right mix for cement. (It’s half a bag of cement, 16 of sand and 2 splooshes of water!) And I think the hard work now is definitely going to pay off – I’m already planning a few gatherings with the doors flung open on our sunny patio! Roll of 2014 – the year of the patio party.

What have you been up to in May? Have you become extension-recluses like Mr J and I?

Simple pleasures – garden goodness

In amongst the utter chaos and dirt of the garden (thanks to the extension) I found some pure loveliness this weekend. I only really started gardening in the last few years – it always felt a bit middle-aged. But once I got over the whole middle-aged thing and decided to try and turn our overgrown yard into a garden, I started to enjoy it. I’m very slowly finding my green fingers – helped by my mum and nan, who both love the phrase ” you need to cut it right back”. Honestly, they’re like garden butchers but obviously doing something right as their gardens are gorgeous. I’m starting to see results from things I’ve actually planted, as well as stuff that just appears on its own. Gardening is a bit like magic!

Garden goodness

I love this teeny tiny white flower that covers so many branches in my garden. I’ve never really noticed it before, but they’re like baby daisies!

This cheery, lone daffodil is fab. He’s bright and proud. And slightly random, but fab nonetheless.

I planted about 20 Anenomes at the same time as this one, but this is the only survivor. You win some, you lose some. It’s been in bloom for ages so it’s the king of the pack – even after todays downpour.

The Tulips are fab – I love the pointed tips before they open. They all sway together depending on where the sun is. And they really cheer me up when the rest of the front of the house looks like a builders depot.

Grape Hyacinths. Such a gorgeous colour and these guys are breeding! Fine by me – I’ll be happy with a bright purple carpet of them!

With a total scene of extension related carnage (mud, cement, wood, tools, holes etc) it’s a real joy to see some springy flowers popping up. I’m looking forward to seeing what pops up next.

Have you got any garden goodies? Any tips for a budding gardener? And how do mums and nans know all this stuff? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The extension – an update

After my moany/ready-to-jack-it-all-in/hysteria-fuelled post about all the things that had been going wrong – things started going right. In fact, I think the weather gods heard my whingeing and decided to dry it up. Even I was getting bored of my moaning.

Here’s a before and after that makes me happy – and some pics from during!

A before and after


Not bad in 7 weeks eh?. Even I’m surprised by how quickly it’s moved on. Once we finished digging the footings and the weather dried up progress has been quick. Everything seems to have taken 2 or 3 days which is great, as it always feels like something is happening. And there’s only a week or so before the next stage can start.

After the footings were dug, this is how we got out of the ground.

– Got the concrete poured and waited for that to go off.

– Had the Council inspect the footings and give us the go ahead.

– Had the bricklayers put the walls up. This was quicker than a normal build as we’re cladding the walls eventually, so they only used pretty bricks in a few areas.

– Lifted the steel into place.

– Fitted the roof joists.

– Widened the soakaway, and refilled with shingle and mud.

– Had the the roofer tile the roof and fit the Velux windoes.

This week we’ve also ordered the sliding doors and window – and they’re due to be fitted in about 4 weeks time. And then we’ll be in the dry!

I’m thrilled. We’ve totally ruined the garden, but you can’t make an omlette without breaking an egg. Or should that be, you can’t build an extension without killing your lawn.

Still no word on the garden room – we’re having trouble with piles! Seriously – if anyone knows anyone with a mini piler please let us know! We’re not too worried though as it gives us time to save some more cash and then start on the patio.

The biggest surprise for me has been how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been really liberating throwing on some scruffs and wellies and getting dirty. My nails may never recover and I’m covered in bruises but I’ve tried to help out where I can. Running wheelbaarrows may be my forte! We both had a weekend ‘off’ last weekend and while the lie ins were much needed, we’re both itching to get back out there and get moving!

See – more positive! 🙂 What do you think? Impressed? Or am I becoming an extension bore? (I’ve not resorted to showing strangers pictures of the extension yet)

A few of my favourite pins – 9

Hello Friday! Whoop. Today has been great. Fun team day at work + leaving early in the sun + drinking wine and making dinner with Mr J = Happy me.

Here are my favourites this week…


1. Spots & stripes place setting Could it be any more perfect? I’m already thinking this has DIY written all over it with wallpaper.

2. Edible doilies Doilies That you can eat? My inner 50’s housewife life is complete.

3. Wardrobe issues I say this every day. Every day! Sigh.

4. Diamond stacking rings I’m sorry Mr J, really I am. But the magpie in me really likes shiny things/rings!

5. Glittery DIY vase I mean, why would you not have 100 of these. Get me some glitter!

6. Skydeck at Sears Tower I’m happy to say I’ve been here and done this. And I loved it. I really love heights and looking at the world below. Is that odd?

7. Black border stair runner A strong black edging on this sisal stair runner with the black bannister is perfection. Why don’t I have more stairs?

Check back tomorrow for the much talked about extension update!

Have a great weekend,

Nicky xoxo

A few of my favourite pins – 8

Happy Friday! Another week has flown by.  After a run of really busy weekends it’s time for a chilled out one. Starting with movie night tonight – we’ll crack open some wine, have dinner and settle down in front of a film we’ve seen too many times before!

And then to really chill out I’m off to a yoga ‘camp’ this weekend to get my omm on. I can’t wait. I really love yoga and am very lucky that I get to go to a fab class in my village every week. Gym classes come and go for me, but yoga is the one thing I never miss.

Here’s what I pinned this week.

A few of my favourite pins - 8

1. The ocean I seriously love the water and could dive right into this now. Everyone around me seems to be going on holiday and I’m jealous. *sigh* My time will come, but good God I’m impatient.

2.  Pretty stamps I’m all for post and parcels, but even more so when it’s pretty. I got a lovely parcel from Papermash this week and it was sealed with gorgeous washi tape – guaranteed to make me ‘oooh’ before I even open it!

3. Garden design I have a bit of a crush on Jenna Lyons and her J Crew designs. It’s one of my must-shop stores when I go to the US, and I’ve totally fallen in love with her ex-back garden. Grass + stepping stones + curved steps = perfection. Can they sell garden plans in their stores?

4. Chocolate cake My aunt has her own cake business and I like to help her out with cakey inspiration. It’s a tough job but sometimes if I send her cake ideas, she sends me samples! I’m definitely sending this to her. Yum.

5. Cake stand perfume holder Hello – why haven’t I thought of this? So simple. And I really like the fretwork panel behind.

6. Yoga Not just for the super bendy, or LA-types – it’s a mental workout as well as physical. And you get to lie down for 15 minutes at the end. My favourite type of exercise.

What are you up to this weekend – chilled out or superbusycrazy?

Have a great weekend.



Creating a gallery wall

I know I’m about the gazillionth person to do a gallery wall, but honest guv, I’ve wanted to do it for ages. Like in the days before Pinterest. (So that’d be a year and a half ago then. Seriously, I just Googled it and Pinterest started in September 2011.Wowzers!)

So this is our gallery wall. I’m a little bit in love with it.

Our gallery wall

And this is how we did it.

1. Pick a wall. This wall in our office was crying out for some attention. It desperately needed some colour and some art – it was uber plain. Wall found.

2. Decide on your style. There are oodles of ways to do this. Same colour frames, different colour frames, black and white photos, multi-coloured canvases, odd artwork, napkins – you name it. I had a couple of key pieces that helped form the style of ours.

First off was a brilliant magnetic world map from Dwell. My oldest friend got me this for my 30th – isn’t it swell? Swell from Dwell. We’ve had much fun pinning and plotting where we want to go next, and where we’ve been. And in my eyes it’s made for a gallery wall. Then there was a beautiful destination print from my brother and sister-in-law. I’d been lusting after it for a while and it was very thoughtful Christmas gift for me and Mr J. It’s from Betsy Benn at notonthehighstreet. I could not love it more.

So, these two travel-inspired artworks had to feature on our wall. We could have gone down the travel route but I’m too wiggly for that – I can’t do a whole theme theme. I  already had the polka dot canvas and snagged the ‘love’ sign from Marks and Spencer in the sale, so a random theme gallery it was.

3. Find your art. I’m a bit of a squirrel and a tad of an over-buyer, so this part wasn’t too tough for me. A couple of el cheapo frames, a couple of middle-of-the-road frames, a canvas from my lovely mummy, a frame I already owned… you get the picture. Geddit, the picture? On a wall of pictures. Jokes. For frames that were empty I pulled together some different things, postcards, funny birthday cards, a bit of fabric that I love and different printed pics- I’m planning on swapping these round regularly.

4. Arrange your art. I wanted to play around with layouts and needed to see them together so made a frame the same size as the wall. I did this with the help of my landing and some ribbon that was in a nearby box. It’s not pretty I know! I hadn’t even opened the curtains! But it did help work out the grouping and spacing.

Our gallery in progress

5. Hang your art. Or in my case, get Mr J to hang it. The technicalities of this I do not know – it involves power tools and a big spirit level. I left him to it, but this grainy iPad in-progress pic shows he started at the bottom – getting the spacing and levels right. Then hung the pictures at the top, and presumably made the bits in-between work. *Note the spirit level in the pic, and a large bear called Humphrey wearing a Stetson.

Hanging our gallery wall

And there you have it, 5 simple steps to a gorgeous gallery wall.

I really do love it. I’m already planning another smaller one for the extension. I think I’m going to go for a more coordinated look, maybe all white frames with black and white prints.

A sneek peek of our bright and breezy gallery wall

After a bit of deliberation I’ve decided to submit this little space in the Home Love contest on the fabulous Fashion for Home. I read about the competition ages ago and kinda forgot to do anything about it. But this weekend I snuggled into the daybed with an enormous cuppa and a stack of magazines (heaven) and spent a lovely hour here. Motivation enough to take some pics and write a blog post. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Whaddya think? Like it or no thanks? Am I too late on the whole gallery wall thang? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Nicky xoxo

Exposed brickwork

As things are finally going well on the extension I’ve really started to get a feel for how the space will be. And how we’ll live in it. I don’t know about you, but looking at drawings and plans are ok, but I only really get it when I’m in the space.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time standing in our roofless, doorless, windowless space recently. We’ve been getting to know each other like all new relationships. And, of course I’ve been plotting how we’ll decorate.

One of the first things that struck me was this wall.

Our new old outside wall

It’s been our outside wall for so long, and I’ve never considered it as an insider. (Please excuse the mess etc. And see the boxes in the right hand window? Yeah, those are 6 huge boxes in my living room with windows in. As you do!) Once everything else is in, this’ll be pretty much the only wall in the extension. With sliding doors, a large window, and a wall of storage we’re not left with much. I always assumed we’d plaster it and paint it like the rest of the house. But in true Carrie Bradshaw style, “I got to thinking”. What if we didn’t plaster this wall and kept it as exposed brickwork? (cue dreamy fade out shot with cute music.)

Here’s some lovely examples that are inspiring me at the moment.

Exposed brickwork - funky office

How much work would you get done here?! Erm, loads. So stylish. Via

Sideboard, chair and print

This is making me itch to get going. Sideboard + huge art work = LOVE! Via

Pale exposed brickwork

Pale and interesting – lovely texture and interest in an entryway. Via

Brickwork in a white room

Hello! Gorgeous white and bright open plan living, with gorgeous brickwork. Via

I’m totally torn. I really can’t decide! What do you think? Exposed brick work ahoy? Or plaster that wall and be gone with the bricks?

A few of my favourite pins – 7

What a week! The first five-dayer in what seems like forever is finally over and I’m pooped. I’m totally ready for bed – is 7pm too early for a 30-something? Can’t we just all agree to work four-day weeks in future? They’re much more fun.

I’ve been a busy bumble bee this week, so no blog posts but there are some coming up. After my whingeing post about how hideous the extension was, we’ve turned a corner and it’s going really well. I’m a happy gal. A much more positive update coming soon.

Here are my preferred pins from this week…

A few of my favourite pins - 7

1. Pattern clashing bedroom Sooooo good. It just works. Even with 8 different patterns and colour. This is my inspiration for a little decor problem I’ve got at the mo. I’m looking at clashing patterns but something’s missing. I might post my quandry soon.

2. Fiat 500 Adorable. What’s not to love? My favourite car of all time. In mint. With a soft top and a picnic basket. *faints*

3. Lipstick picture This made me think of a 13 year old me. I’d kiss my school books all the time, normally wearing Rimmel’s Heather Shimmer.

4. Colour co-ordinated wardrobe In my dream-dream world this is how my wardrobe would look. Organised, sorted by colour and on matching hangers. (The reality is some way from this!)

5. Open living space Double doors. Bright light. Round table. I’ve totally fallen for this  look – decision made. Expect to see it soon at Casa J.

6. Dolly Parton  Oh Dolly, you’re so purrrdy.

7. Washi tape cups In black and white – of course! I have a mini-confession… I love washi tape too much to use it. Is that odd? I have stationery hoarding issues, I know.

If you like what you see – have a look at all my boards here. All sorts of goodness – I take no responsibility for how much you’ll want to spend!

So, what have you got planned this weekend? A soft-top cruise in a Fiat 500 with a picnic? Hoarding your washi tape? Or listening to Dolly Parton on repeat?

Whatever you’re up to, have a good one!

Nicky x

A few of my favourite pins – 6

What a difference an hour makes – I’m writing this and it’s still (just about) light outside. British Summer Time is here – now we just need a touch of summer! The lighter evenings have massively improved my bear-like winter-hibernation tendencies. And I’m a bit more inspired to get working on a few projects including some updates around the house.

I also bought some lovely goodies from The White Company this week. I bought them online and squealed when they arrived – they’re so much lovelier in real life than on their lovely website. Score. Don’tcha just love it when that happens? I’ll maybe post on them next week.

Here’s my favourites from this weeks stash…

A few of my favourite pins 6

1. DIY paper lanterns These look so cool, and totally do-able. I think they’d be great for a summer party outside hung from some trees.

2. Zip line in Switzerland Wow – how fun does this look? I know I’d be less than subtle and scream all the way down.

3. Christian Laboutins Hello girls!

4. Striped entrance I’m so drawn to stripes. This hallway mixes bold wallpaper with a graphic floor – but kept to the same tones it works brilliantly. The simple console is inspired and the gold chunky mirror adds some bling.

5. Nutella cheesecake Dinky, individual pots. Antiqued dessert spoons. Nutella cheesecake. Yum. You had me at Nutella.

6. RSVP I adore this. So funny – this would definitely make sure there were no stragglers to reply to any parties or events. ‘Will not be there – heard there’d be people with bells on.’

Have a fab weekend all – be careful, it’s meant to get up to a balmy 9 degrees. What are you up to?

Nicky x

Shopping Spree: French Connection homeware

OK, so I know I live in the sticks, and I might not be as hip as a hip young thing – but I fear I’ve been living under a stone. French Connection does homeware?!

The new French Connection homeware look-book plopped out with all the other throw aways when I opened a monthly magazine this evening. (Confession – I actually love all the inserts that you get in a magazine. Give me the tut that’s in the Sunday papers and I’m a happy girl) My first reaction was surprise – how have I missed this news? And second reaction was ‘hello homeware’.

Pared back and simple, the homeware feels totally different from their clothing. But in a good way. Think Scandinavian cool meets airy loft apartment. It doesn’t feel like French Connection from the high street.

A quick log onto the website  (I hadn’t even taken my coat off) shows that there are loads of gorgeous pieces.

I adore this safari chair

Safari chair

And here are a few of my other favourites…

French Connection

Washed mango table light, from £85 / Industrial ladder shelving, £255 / Tripod tray table, £85

Woven copper side table, £95 / Turquoise jug, from £32 / Porthole mirror, from £49

What do you think? Are you sticking to French Connections clothes or switching allegiance to homeware? Am I the last person on the planet to know about their homeware line? Have I missed any other recent updates? There’s a new Pope? What?!

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