Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and by “our” I mean the humans in this household. Otto wasn’t too pleased with the noise (perhaps the cackling witch doorbell wasn’t a good idea), the number of people at our party, or his costume:

Otto the bomb...

...to go with Grimbil's SWAT team costume.

He spent the first hour of the party hiding. Once we took his costume off, he became a little more social. Or maybe he was just trying out a new costume : “pity me and give me lots of cuddles.” Either way, he slowly made his way back down into the living room and spent the rest of the night camped out near the coffee table. He did however like his pumpkin (thanks Vil!)

Otto's first pumpkin (in ACDC font)

Halloween is not celebrated as much in London as it is back in the US, but it’s slowly gaining ground. The good thing about this is (so far) we haven’t had a competing Halloween party to contend with. The bad thing is that there is simply not the variety of decorations available here as there are in NY.  We ended up making a lot of our decorations:

I made 40 rats. Next year I'm going for 60

homemade chandeliers (yes, they're umbrellas)

We turned our front yard into a graveyard (thanks ebay!)

egg sacs made by yours truly

I get my love of Halloween from my dad. He is well known in his neighborhood for his Halloween decorations and for his penchant for scaring trick or treaters. When he heard that the decoration selection over here isn’t good, he lept into action and sent us an amazing care package full of Halloween fun. Unfortunately Her Majesty’s Customs wasn’t in the holiday spirit and held up the package, so we got it the Friday after Halloween, but still, we are so set for 2011. London, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet….

Before: Exterior

In order to appreciate how far along the exterior has come, let’s revisit how it looked before we moved in.

It’s a combination of red brick and dark brown brick (on purpose!), the windows are double-glazed but surrounded by cheap white plastic, and there are two doors: on the left is the front door, and on the right is the door to an outside storage space. The landscaping consists of gravel and weeds, and some concrete steps down to the sidewalk. Oh, and a ginormous plant with thorns that might be the tallest yet scraggliest rose I’ve ever seen.

The plan, phase 1:

Replace the downstairs window, brick up the area that used to be white plastic. We went for a slightly narrower window in order to improve the kitchen layout. Brick up the door to the storage space (said space is becoming our utility closet, accessed from the foyer). Replace the front door with something more modern and secure. The good news is all except the front door is finished, and the door will be installed on Thursday.

Phase 2:

Stucco the facade, similar to what our neighbors did. It makes the whole thing look much cleaner and more modern. It will also cover up the now three different colors of brick. We’ll also do something about the landscaping, but we’re not sure yet. Maybe we’ll pave the front yard and go with potted plants, maybe we’ll get rid of the gravel and have nice plantings on either side of the path. But we probably have a year or so to figure it out.

The house 2 weeks ago

As usual I’ve been rather dog-focused, to the neglect of the house part of this blog. Fortunately Affleck has been steadily making progress.

The bifold doors are in, and the builders sent us a pic to show us how aweseome they are. I think the extension looks great!

At the other end of the house, the new front window was put in. So much nicer than the original, which was surrounded by cheap white plastic

The underfloor heating was put in.  Otto is going to love it this winter!

And our flooring finally arrived (the delivery guy forgot to put it on the truck, so it was delayed for a bit. GRRRR), as did all of our kitchen appliances.

Our floor tiles

Our mountain of kitchen appliances