16 articles Tag DIY

My Top DIY Tips

Before we begin, I should probably confess that I am by NO means a DIY expert. By the same token, we’ve been doing a fair bit of decorating and DIY recently as we had a few bits in the house that needed doing and our landlady asked us to do them. Between painting, damp-proofing, repairs and improvements – if I’m doing big projects that involve the use of plastics, I used Simply Plastics, it’s been a real baptism of fire as it’s years since I’ve done anything like this, and I was probably a kid helping my parents the last time I did any of it. Jumping in at the deep end means that we’ve learned a few things along the way so I thought I’d share some of my pearls of wisdom with you:

It Doesn’t Matter How Careful You Are, Your Clothes Will Get Dirty

You can be the neatest, most careful painter and DIY-er on the planet but there’s still a better than average chance that you’ll end up getting SOMETHING on your clothes! Wearing old clothes for decorating in is all well and good, but using dedicated workwear if you have a big renovation project to complete is a really good idea as not only will you not mind if you get it dirty, you’ll also feel more in the DIY mood if you’re all kitted out. Take a look at the Engelbert Strauss’s website for some great options.

It Can Make or Break a Relationship

Decorating is one of those things which can be really fun and a great exercise in teamwork but it can also be massively stressful and a source of conflict for many couples. Husband and I are lucky enough to be really good at working together as a team when we’re doing practical things like decorating or furniture building, but it has also caused some fairly big rows in the past, so be prepared for potential tiffs! When doing DIY make sure you prepare a skip for all of your un wanted waste. Check out this skip hire company in benfleet for more information on quality skips.

It Might Not Always Go To Plan

Having a vision of what things will look like is all well and good but tempering your expectations will do you a favour in the long run, rather than allowing yourself to be disappointed if it doesn’t go your way. Husband and I recently decorated our bedroom and I had my heart set on a wallpapered feature wall, only to realise that the wall was just too damp to hang paper on. Although we’ve treated the damp and painted over it, it’s still pointless hanging paper which could ultimately be ruined but that didn’t change the fact that I was VERY disappointed for a while!

Have you learned something from a renovation project recently? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear about it!

Gardening and DIY with Kids This Spring

When it gets to this time of year, where the weather is a bit more clement, my mind is always full of all of the DIY and garden stuff that I’d like to do and now that the kids are older and a little more able to get involved (don’t worry, I won’t let Burrito Baby hold any power tools!) I’ve been thinking about things we can do together. Luckily, my friends from the blogging world are the BEST source of inspiration, so I thought I’d share some brilliant posts with you of my favourite projects that they’ve done.

How to Make a Tardis Wardrobe

I’ve you’ve got a gaggle of mini Whovians living in your house then this guide to making a tardis wardrobe is perfect for you. Husband and I really encourage the girls to have their interests and try to indulge them as far as possible so I absolutely love the fact that Penny at Parentshaped has nurtured her daughter’s love for all things Doctor Who with her bedroom furniture.

CD Fish Bird Scarers

CD fish bird scarers

I absolutely LOVE this idea for DIY bird-scarers that Liz over at Me and My Shadow made with her daughter to protect their home garden patch. As well as upcycling and making use of old CDs, thus keeping them out of landfill, they look really pretty too. Such a great project to do with kid as you can be as creative as you like with how you decorate them.

DIY Matchbox Drawer Chest

Red Ted Art DIY matchbox drawers

Something that we ALWAYS need more of in our house is storage, so I love the idea of making ourselves some storage solutions out of other things. These cute little drawers from Red Ted Art are the perfect place to keep art supplies and school stuff, and I’ll definitely be making some of these with the girls.

Top Tips for Gardening With Children

At the risk of going a bit meta, Carolin at Mummy Alarm has put together another rundown post, sharing a whole load of other posts about gardening with kids. It’s a real wealth of information which will be useful in the months to come and I’m going to go through and read all of it with interest.

Bedroom in a Box

Dulux Bedroom in a BoxMaking design decisions can be really tricky, especially when you’re trying to stick to a theme, which is why Dulux decided to make the “Bedroom in a Box”, which Sian at Helpful Mum reviewed. She chose a jungle theme for her kids and takes us through exactly how she dealt with the makeover, as well as giving her opinion on the results.

Five Easy Foods to Grow with Kids

If you’re planning on growing veg this spring and summer with your kids, Emma at The Syders has got some excellent suggestions of what you can grow. When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than helping my grandad to pick the peas and runner beans he’d grown in the garden and I think it’s really important for kids to see where food comes from…plus, NOTHING tastes better than strawberries grown in your own garden!

Planting and Sowing

Emmy’s Mummy has got another great gardening post about how to get the kids involved with the planting and sowing stage of gardening, perfect for this time of year. They’re growing a whole variety of different fruit and veg which will be a fabulous crop once they’re all grown and ready for harvest.

Easy DIY Crepe Paper Tulips Craft Tutorial

Tulips are one of my favourite flowers (have you ever seen the black ones?!) and this tulip craft is absolutely perfect for this time of year when the flowers are starting to bloom. As Katie says, they’d be the perfect centrepiece for an Easter dinner, but I also think they’d be ideal for Mother’s Day too, especially if your Mum has allergies and can’t have real flowers.

Pink Jobs/Blue Jobs?

pinks jobs blue jobsOne of the things on which I pride myself is my willingness to give things a go. I come from a family of do-ers, choosing to mend cars, decorate houses and generally fend for themselves, rather than hiring someone in, and Husband’s family is like this even more so than my own. Husband has an aunty of whom I’m constantly in awe, who’s a true role model for my girls. She’s genuinely one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to cars that I’ve ever met and she’s never fazed by a building project or getting her hands dirty in a multitude of ways.

I know that in a lot of houses, there are jobs which are characterised as ‘pink jobs’ and ‘blue jobs’, with domestic chores such as cleaning and child-rearing falling firmly in the female camp, whilst the men do the heavy lifting, car maintenance and rubbish-taking-out. This isn’t the case in our house. Husband is just as at home changing a nappy as changing a tyre, and I’m certainly not shy when it comes to getting involved in DIY.

A few months ago, I was talking to some friends at Sausage’s school when one of the Grandads who regularly does the school run approached me. He mentioned that he’d noticed that my break light was out and suggested that I “get the Husband to look at it” for me. I had to laugh. Yes, Husband would be more than capable of changing a bulb, but as it happens, I’m the only driver in the house and actually deal with car maintenance myself. When our car needed a new battery, I bought one from BuyCarparts.co.uk and fitted it myself, with no more than a YouTube video to give me confidence that I was doing it correctly and it never even occurred to me to think that I wouldn’t be able to do it myself.

For me, I’ve always tried to be as independent as I can be. Husband and I are a team and pitch in together with everything that needs doing, but I still like to know that I can do things myself. It’s also hugely important to me that the girls see Mummy as a capable human being; I remember, as a kid, seeing my Nan and Grandad living an oddly symbiotic life; he’d NEVER set foot in the kitchen and conversely, she never used a cash point, set the video and rarely even changed the TV channel. It worked for them, as it so often does in marriages from a bygone era, but I also remember worrying about how they’d cope if the other wasn’t around. I had visions of Grandad living on fish and chips every night, or my Nan only ever watching one TV channel!

A few years ago, my Uncle kindly gave us his old Honda Civic as we were without a car at the time and although he didn’t need it anymore, it was far too good to scrap. It really invigorated my thirst for independence and I relished taking care of the car myself, doing the vital maintenance as well as the non-vital things like fitting a new stereo, something I’ve done myself in almost every car I’ve owned.

I’ll definitely be encouraging Sausage and Burrito Baby to learn these kinds of self-sufficiencies, so that they’re both able to take care of things for themselves, as well as having the comfort of knowing they’re capable enough to do so. Having that confidence can be the making of a young woman and I can only hope that by seeing other family members doing things themselves rather than always deferring to someone else, they’ll see that there are so many things that you can do at home, without spending huge amounts on labour.

Upcycling Roses Part 2 – Homemade Bath Bombs

Last week I showed you how to make a pretty and more-or-less free centrepiece for a table using recycled rose petals and today I’m going to show you how to make homemade bath bombs using some more of your dried petals. You will need:

150g Bicarbonate of Soda (food grade)

50g Citric Acid

5ml of Rose Essential Oil

Edible Glitter

Pink Food Colouring

Dried rose petals (method for drying in previous post, see link above)

Tools:

Sieve

Kitchen scales

Large mixing bowl

Rubber gloves

Teaspoon

bath bomb mould (we used a rose shaped one)
Hand sprayer full of cold water

1. Begin by chopping your rose petals into smaller pieces with a sharp knife – remember, they’ll need to be able to fit down your drain when you enpty the bath!

2. Measure out the dry ingredients (bicarb, citric acid, glitter) and sieve them into the mixing bowl

3. Add the food colouring a couple of drops at a time. The mixture will start to fix and you need to mix quickly to get the colour through evenly. You could also use powdered colour, which would avoid this altogether

4. Add the rose petals, then the essential oil and mix thoroughly. Some oils have a yellow tinge, depending on the carrier oil, which may alter the colour of the mixture. Try to find a clear oil, or adjust the colour after adding with the food colouring, adding a drop at a time

5. Using a gloved hand, grab a handful of the mixture and spray LIGHTLY with the water in the hand sprayer then push the mixture firmly into the moulds (do not allow too much water as the mixture will start to fizz). The back of a teaspoon is handy for smoothing out the flat side of the bomb once it’s in the mould

6. Once you’ve filled all of your moulds (the amounts above made two of our rose shaped bombs but you can multiply the amounts to make more bombs) leave to set for 30 minutes.

7. Ease the bombs out of the moulds

Voila! You have yourself some homemade bath bombs! I used one of them a couple of nights ago to test it out and I must say, they felt wonderfully luxurious. The rose scent was delightful and I felt a bit special having such a lovely bath, full of rose petals and glitter.

Obviously, you’ll need to be careful with these if you have sensitive skin or are pregnant.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Kärcher Window Vac – One Month On

Just for the record, the lovely Kärcher people haven’t asked me to do a follow-up to my original post, I’ve just found the device so useful that I wanted to show you how we’ve been using it over the last month.

1. Demisting the car

As much as I love our old car, it’s not all that efficient when it comes to demisting the windows on a cold day. In fact, if I put the blowers on too high and listen to the radio at the same time, it overloads the electrics and the immobiliser has a fit, making the car cut out completely, which is a bit scary when you’re on the brow of a hill on a busy road…but that’s another story! On these cold mornings, I’ve found the Window Vac absolutely invaluable when it comes to giving me visibility quickly. It’s saved me so much time as I don’t have to sit around waiting for the windows to clear before I go anywhere, I just vac all the windows inside and out and we’re ready to go. I can’t emphasise enough how much I love the Vac for this!

2. Sorting out our damp house

We live in a little bungalow which is damp at the best of times and even though we keep our bedroom cold, we still wake up with the windows running with condensation. I keep them open all day long but a quick going over with the vac first gets rid off the excess damp and gives us an overall healthier sleeping space.

3. Cleaning the bathroom

Let’s face it, cleaning the bathroom is a complete drag and although I keep the basin, bath and loo clean, I’m not so good at washing the walls down. However, today we stuck the shower on and built up a load of steam so that Sausage could get a bit of relief from her horrible cough and cold and after, the walls were absolutely soaked. I went over all of the tiles with the Window Vac and they came up a treat. An easy way to steam-clean the bathroom, and I love the fact that I haven’t had to use loads of caustic and expensive chemicals to give it a good clean.

4. Cleaning the patio set

Our patio set has a glass top to the table, which looks really nice but is an absolute pig to keep clean. There’s a rim around the edge which means no matter how much you wash and rinse, it’s impossible to wipe it properly. However, this time I washed the top with a soapy sponge, rinsed it with the hose and then gave it a good going over with the Window Vac and it came up a treat, streak free and completely clean.

I knew before we even got the Vac that I loved the idea of it, but as I said in my previous post, I had high-expectations for it to live up to and I can honestly say that it has more than surpassed them. The longer we have the Vac the more uses I find for it and considering they retail for less than £50 if you shop around, it’s worth every penny. If you’ve got one and know of any uses that I’ve missed, do let me know!

Extreme Makeover – Doll’s House Edition

Soon to be ‘Sausage’s House’

A few months ago, I wrote about my Nan and Grandad, Rene and John, and about the doll’s house they made for me from scratch. This is what I wrote:

“It was in this shed that Grandad made my doll’s house. This dolls house was better than any that I have ever, to this day, seen in a shop.

The walls were covered with brick-dust and individually pointed with white paint, each brick lovingly created by Grandad’s patient hand. The writers over at MetalSucks were extremely impressed.

Every room had an electric light with its own light switch, powered by a big battery compartment, hidden under the roof. The roof had individual tiles, cut out of a terracotta coloured lino. The rooms were carpeted and a proper staircase ran through the middle of the house. Then came Nanny Rene’s work, individually made curtains, duvets, light shades and linen, all in coordinating colours.

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