Wednesday, 21 September 2016

the least fun I've ever had spending ALL THE MONEY!!!!

condenser boiler zoned heating installation

Meet Neil! Neil cares about the environment and uses his expertise to improve fuel efficiency and save you money. Neil is very necessary. Neil is very boring. Neil cost €3800.

Pause for minor chest pain to subside.

Yep, our old boiler is no more. It stopped working months ago but seeing as it was almost summer and our house is generally very warm anyway we actually didn't need the we put it to the back of our minds and planned to have someone come and look at it later in the year. We had frivolous things like a car that had actual opening doors to pay for and we just really didn't have the money to be doing repairs right then unless they were absolutely essential.

Cut to two weeks ago, and the first morning that I got up and had to put fleeces on the kids cos it was "a bit chilly". Oh yes, Autumn was on it's way, and while we still had the fire for the evenings our kids very selfishly need warm bedrooms and the occasional (very occasional, grubby is their natural state) hot bath so we really needed to get the central heating up and running again asap. So we booked someone to come and look at it, hoping it would be something that could repaired and we could avoid replacing the whole thing. 

He arrived, he opened the boiler......and a load of rust fell out! He didn't really need to tell me that that couldn't be repaired. Apparently something had been leaking in there for a long time, and the water had eaten through the inside of the boiler. Now, he did say it looked like the boiler hadn't been checked in years, but it really should have been something we had looked at right after e moved in. 

Moral of the story, spend the €100, get your damn boiler serviced!

So we looked at our options, and we could either just replace the boiler, which would cost €2000, or we could fit a new boiler and a zoned heating system. This would mean we could have the heating on just upstairs or downstairs as well as having the option to heat the whole house, or just heat the water tank. Plus we would have thermostats in all the rooms upstairs so that we could set it to a certain temperature and the boiler would click on and off as needed to keep these rooms at their individual set temp. All this would cost €3750, but with a discount from Energia (our gas provider) for going through them and a grant from the SEAI that you qualify for if you install a condenser boiler and zoned heating it would bring the total down to €2450. An extra €450 for a super efficient boiler and complete control over our heating. No brainer.

We did have someone else have a look at it and give us quotes, we didn't just go off what Energia told us.

condenser boiler zoned heating installation

So it took a day and a half, pulling up of carpets and drilling through floors to lay the pipes, and a bloody credit union loan to pay for the whole thing, but it's done now, and I'm eagerly waiting to see what our new bills will be like. Apparently the old boiler would have been running at 65% efficiency at best as it was 13 years old and there weren't the same rules in place for boilers at the time, and the new boiler should be running at 95% efficiency. So with that on top of being able to turn off the heating completely upstairs (we rarely need it on upstairs, it used to really annoy me to have it going up there during the day when it was a complete waste) we should see significant savings! I might do another post later in the year to let you know how much we're saving.

condenser boiler zoned heating installation
The main panel shows us the current temp in each zone, and gives us the option of setting the heating to come on at specific times, or just hit a button and have it immediately come on for an hour. You can even set it to come on days or even weeks from now, nothing like coming home to a warm house after being away!

The whole thing was organised by someone in Energia, and they applied the grant and the discount directly, so we didn't have to pay the full amount first and then claim the grant back like we would have had to do if we went with anyone else. 

Also, I think it's worth noting that there was a mix-up between what we thought we were getting and what the guys who turned up had been told to install. We thought "zoned" meant what I described above, when actually it just means you can control the hot water tank separately to the heating, unless you specify otherwise and pay more for the extra "zone" of being able to control upstairs independently of downstairs. So halfway through the first (and what was meant to be the only) workday we realised the mistake, and we thought it was going to be a huge deal to change it and get what we wanted, plus a whole lot of extra money, but no! A couple of calls between us, the installers and Energia and it was all sorted with minimal fuss and just €250 euro extra. Energia basically (without any arguments!) accepted that they hadn't explained things properly and sorted it all out for us. 

Also, the installers pointed out to me that Energia took a chance on quoting us for the job without sending someone out to look and that there was definitely a lot more work and materials needed than they could have anticipated (pipe had to run all the way up and through a giant hole cut in the floor), plus an electrician had to be brought in, as well as the extra days work they had to do....and not one peep was made by Energia about it. They quoted us a price, and they stuck to that price. 

And I am not saying that for any reason other than I happen to be an Energia customer and I was really happy with the way they handled things.

So there you go, it was really annoying to have to pay for it, but it needed to be done, and at least it's adding value to the house as well as lowering our energy bills. But the moral of the story is, get your boiler checked regularly folks, don't be faced with a box full of rust like we were!!!

I'll leave you with a pic of the monstrosity that is our new boiler, warts n all! All that efficiency requires all the copper pipe in the known universe apparently, making our lovely space-age boiler look like something that was cobbled together from pieces of junk. I'm trying to look at this as a positive, cos this means that we absolutely have to come up with a solution for the mess that is our utility room, and it needs to be done yesterday,cos look.....

condenser boiler zoned heating installation
*screams internally*



Monday, 19 September 2016

thank you thank you thank you!

So I attended the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards last Thursday night, and not only did I get to put on an actual dress and makeup, eat food while it was hot and consume fizzy alcohol while talking to fellow adults (mostly about our kids, baby steps) but I actually won a frickin' award as well!! 

I'm not doing this for praise or kudos, I'm doing this because there are days, many of them, when I feel like the only thing I've used my brain for all day is to come up with inventive ways to say "no" or find new hiding places for the most irritating toys, and writing this blog makes me feel like "me" again.....but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be told I'm doing a decent job every now and again.

So thanks to everyone who reads my posts, everyone who took the time to vote for me, and all the bloggers who judged the final stages of the  competition. It means an awful lot that you all thought I was good enough to be up there with all the other amazing blogs that made it to the final stage, and coming home with silver was just the icing on the cake.


Saturday, 10 September 2016

it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful

So I was browsing Pinterest recently and I came across something that was so perfect that I had to share it. The idea isn't isn't new, the pictures aren't even mine, but the feeling behind it resonated so much with me that I felt like I had to show it you.

It's the Japanese tradition of Kintsugi, and it's where damaged things are repaired with gold or silver leaf, highlighting the repair rather than trying to hide it, and it looks like this......



So beautiful! I think any repair that is made to stand out rather than blend in is using the intention behind Kitsugi. Save yourself loads of money replacing a whole floor/wall of tiles, end up with a quirky, beautiful design feature in your home. No brainer.

Chris Liljenberg Halstrom


1508 London

Image result for kintsugi
Chopsticks NY

I'm embracing this as a philosophy, nay, as a way of life!

If you would like to read the original article it's on Apartment Therapy




Thursday, 8 September 2016

It's September!!! The start of my favourite time of year, tights, boots, fires, what's not to love? The leaves have started turning and I came home the other day to find that my mother in law had not only out out my washing to dry while she was minding the kids, but she'd gathered (and displayed!) this bunch of beautiful Autumn foliage for me.

She's a keeper.

I don't know what they are, but they came form a tree and are a beautiful, deep burgundy/purple colour. I think the add a lovely bit of drama to my sitting room.

So now I'm inspired! Last year I had every intention of making like my American brethren and making an Autumn wreath for the door, but this year I mean it, it's happening!

I found these pics on Pinterest and I'm in love with them all, so I may attempt something similar.

DIY Autumn Leaves Garland
House of Jade Interiors Blog

Watercolor Paper Fall Leaf and Branch Mobile
Happiness is Homemade
Pressed fall leaves can be made into a lovely and frugal front door wreath. Learn a quick and easy method to preserve fall leaves and make this simple wreath today!
Bren Did
Fall Leaf Banner with Bookpage Leaves - from Sondra Lyn At
Sondra Lyn At Home

Love them all!!! But the wreath is definitely happening, I'm determined. As soon as the leaves start to change around here we'll head out and the kids can help me gather some.

What do you think? Do you decorate your house for the seasons? I for one am already planning for Halloween!!


Saturday, 27 August 2016

so awkward

So the eagle eyed among you may have noticed my shiny new profile pic gurning at you there. Awkward isn't it? Hard to look at even. Well the reason for that good people is that I had to LET SOMEONE TAKE A PHOTO OF ME WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO PRETEND I DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS HAPPENING!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

refreshing tile grout

grout renew

Things have been a bit quiet around here lately but that doesn't mean there isn't serious DIY happening in the background! I just made the mistake of starting a small "fun" project in the hall which snowballed into me having to paint all the woodwork in there and on the stairs *sob* while still working on our bathroom upstairs. 

Anyone who's ever painted a cream skirting board white and not had anyone bloody notice after your hours of fiddly painting will tell you what a boring and thankless job it is, but alas, it needed to be done.

However, I did also do the quickest, easiest, most satisfying little project in the bathroom that I wanted to share with you today...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

yay!!! thanks!!!

I just got an email informing me that I'm shortlisted in the Blog Awards Ireland again this year. Thanks so much to everyone who nominated me, I've been feeling a bit swamped and unproductive blog-wise lately so this on top of being nominated for the Amara Interiors awards is a lovely little boost!

Fingers crossed I make it to the finals so I'm forced to have a night out ;)

Thanks again lovely people!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

get my posts all up in your inbox

I have literally just realised that my email subscription box wasn't working, and has probably never worked!! So sorry guys but it's up and running now so if you want to sign up to get my posts delivered directly to your email just head on over and fill in the box on the sidebar with your email address now. Do it! You know you want to ;)

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

diy essentials

Cute, but not helpful.

Hey everybody, how was your bank holiday? It was wet and dreary here in Limerick but we decided to suck it up and headed off to the Craggaunowen historical site where they had some great storytelling and re-enactments to celebrate the Lughnasa festival. We learned a making wool, ground flour to cook oatcakes over an open fire and rounded it off with a scone by a peat fire in the lovely cafe. It was a great day out and I thoroughly recommend it for adults and kids alike.

So todays post is about kit, basically. I was thinking how often I get asked how I manage to get projects done with kids around, and I suppose usually they happen randomly, whenever I get the time or when the mood takes me, without a lot of prep and a trip to B&Q! And I think the reason for that is that I have most of the essentials when it comes to DIY to hand, ready for me to jump right into a project whenever I get the chance, and I thought I'd share with you what they are.

In case you were planning on putting together a DIY "go-bag" or something.

It's not a long list, but if you keep these things knocking around your house then when the kids actually go to sleep on time on a day when you aren't totally exhausted you'll be able to get crap done without first planning an expedition for supplies.

So, you will need....

Basic tools

Every homeowner is going to need a few basic tools anyway, just for general upkeep, and they're used every week in our house. We use a drill, pliers, hammer and saw all the time. Add a measuring tape, a staple gun and a level and you're pretty much set for all eventualities.

We pick up most of our stuff in B&Q, they have all the basics you'll need in one place, and the prices are good. You don't need to go top of the range with this stuff, own brand works fine!


Once you have your tool kit assembled, start a...

Paint collection

Basically, there is always a can of my favourite Rustoleum gold spray paint and a tin of white gloss knocking around in our shed, along with the leftovers of every colour we've used so far in this house and a box full of testers. It just means that while I might not have a specific colour I'm looking for, I always have the paint to hand to do touch-ups, paint doors and skirting etc. You know, the boring jobs that no-one wants to do! But at least when the day comes that I think painting all the skirting in the hall seems like a great idea I'll be able to start the job before I come to my senses!

I also keep paintbrushes, masking tape, sandpaper and a cheap roller set in the shed for the same reason. 

And then, once you have you tools and paint to hand, sort out some...

Protective gear

Dust sheets, old sheets, whatever you have that will protect your floors and furniture from paint splashes, and something to protect yourself too.

You might think you're careful, trust me, you're not that careful.

Mine is currently a super chic ensemble consisting of a pair of too-short tracksuit pants and a t-shirt from a charity event, both covered in so much paint they practically stand up by themselves.


One day I'll kit myself up with some decent workwear, Engelbert Strauss Workwear have some great stuff, but until then I'll make do!

So there you have it, if you keep some basic bits and pieces to hand then you'll be able to move fast and get that wall painted on that magical day when the monsters are both having a nap and you've had so much coffee that you feel like you could paint the whole damn house in an hour. Striking while the iron is hot people, it's the only way to get DIY done with kids!

That, or giving them away for a few days. Thanks grandparents!!!

*this post was sponsored by Englebert Strauss Workwear

Friday, 29 July 2016

plans for an industrial/glam bathroom...and a trip to Barcelona

rustic industrial glam bathroom

Hola friends!

I'm just back from a holiday in Barcelona so I come by that "Hola" honestly. We spent four nights on our own in the city and then headed to a vineyard outside Perpignan for the beautiful wedding of one of our oldest friends.

As in, we've known him a long time, not that he's of particularly advanced years or anything.

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