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Cheap Ways to Give Your Home a Makeover

Cheap Ways to Give Your Home a MakeoverPhoto by Jagoda Kondratiuk on Unsplash

With Christmas out of the way, many of us are starting to think about ways that we can give our home a makeover for the year ahead. However, the dent that the festive season left in our finances is probably still a factor for most of us, which means that any home improvements need to be done cheaply, or even better, for free. With this in mind I thought I would look at five ways that you can improve your home on a very tight budget.

Recycle

One way that you can improve your living situation is to go room to room and do a full inventory of all of the furniture and fixings that you have in each space. You may realise that one piece of furniture isn’t working for one room, but with a lick of paint or a rub down it might be perfect for a different space. Our TV unit doesn’t really go with the rest of our room, however we’ve been thinking lately that we might mount the TV on the wall, give the TV unit a makeover with a coat of chalk paint and use as a coffee table.

Freecycle

Freecycle is such an amazing place to get things that you need without spending any money at all. If you want to declutter, giving old items away on Freecycle is a great way to do this as more often than not people will come and collect them, meaning you have to make little or no effort to empty a space. Asking for things on Freecycle is also a great way to obtain the resources you need to transform your spaces. We once managed to get hold of enough laminate flooring to recover the floor of a whole bedroom and it didn’t cost us a penny!

Ebay

Finding things cheaply on eBay can be really easy, although sometimes you may need to spend a little extra time seeking out those bargains. However, one trick that I learned years ago is to search eBay with misspellings. This might sound weird, but sometimes you’ll find things with a low reserve and absolutely no bids because they haven’t shown up in anybody’s search results, thanks to a misspelling in the listing. If you can find these listings, these are the holy grail of eBay and often mean that people can get things for next to nothing if you’re willing to put in the time to find them.

Swaps

If you’ve got stuff to give away you might find that someone else has something that you want and is willing to swap with you. Facebook is a great place to find swaps for your items and you may even find that there is a local event where people take their items for swap seats. Hey, if there isn’t a local event maybe you could organise one, if you have the time!

Plants

If you haven’t got the money to do a full makeover of your home, sometimes adding little touches like house plants here and there can make a massive difference to your living spaces. As well as plants giving a burst of colour to a room they are great for your well-being, help to produce clean oxygen and will make your room look stylish and put together.

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Even though Sausage is now 4, we still have the odd pack of baby wipes laying around, for hands and face after dinner or long car journeys and we always choose Huggies as they’re the only ones that don’t leave Sausage’s super-senstitive skin all red and bumpy. Let’s face it, finances are tight for most of the UK at the moment, that’s why Quidco is offering you the chance to pick up 2 free packs of Huggies Baby Wipes.

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Upcycling Rose Petals Part One – Simple Table Centrepiece

I love receiving flowers, same as most people, but I always feel a bit sad when they start to die. Roses are my faves (in fact, Sausage’s middle name is even Rose) and they start off so beautiful and full of potential, but whither away to nothing in such a short time. Recently, Sausage insisted on making me buy buying a bunch of flowers for her Dad and she chose pink roses for him. They lasted quite a while, but when the time came to add them to the compost heap, I decided to keep the petals and dry them for later use.

Drying the petals

The drying itself was a simple process, I simply pull the petals off of the stalks, spread the petals out on a microwaveable plate and buzzed then for a minute at a time until they started to feel a bit crispy. I think it took three one-minute sessions in my 800w microwave and then I spread them on an old tea towel laid flat to soak up any excess moisture. I then stuck them in a lock-tight tupperware box until I needed them.

Simple but pretty table centrepiece

The first thing I decided to use my dried petals for was a pretty table centrepiece, based on an idea I saw at Christmastime on Pinterest but never got around to making. You’ll need:

Dried rose petals

Small bundt cake tin

Boiled water

Tealights

Pretty saucer or bowl

1. Fill the bundt cake tin with the dried rose petals. At this point, you can also add a few drops of rose essential oil if you want to, but mine hadn’t arrived yet, so I didn’t.

2. Pour boiling water on top of the petals

3. Use a spoon or other pokey thing to press the petals down so that they are all submerged below the water and laying flat

4. Place directly into the freezer (it’s a good idea to put a piece of cardboard between the shelf and the tin as it may freeze together and be a total pain to try and extract

5. Once it’s frozen and you’re ready to use the centrepiece, remove it from the freezer and run the outside of the tin under a lukewarm tap to release the ice

6. Place it upside down on your saucer or bowl (it’s a good idea to measure how much water the saucer will take as it may overflow as the centrepiece starts to defrost if you don’t use something big enough). Something vintage and floral would probably look lovely

7. Place your tealight into the dimple in the bottom of the ice and light

8. The ice will probably outlast your tealights, so you may need to replace the candle a couple of times, but as the ice melts, providing you use a plate or bowl that is deep enough, you end up with a candle floating on beautiful rose petals and rose tinted water.

This photo doesn’t really do it justice as it was quite late and taken under the light above my hob, but the water and petals looked a lot prettier in reality!

I think this would make a lovely (and pretty much free) table decoration for a romantic meal for two. You can replace the flower petals with seasonal things like berries or seashells for different occasions too and experiment with scents and colours.

Just a tip – boiling the water first is quite important as it makes the ice clearer when it freezes, allowing you to see what’s inside. As an additional bonus that I wasn’t expecting, the boiling water took some of the pink colour from the petals and make the ice a beautiful pale rose pink colour. The photo below is my first attempt, made without boiling water and it did not work at all!

Part two to follow – come back to see how I get along with making my own rose-scented bath bombs!

The NHS and Me

I’ve got a bit of a tumultuous past with the NHS. When I was 6 I contracted meningococcal septicaemia, my Mum rushed me to our local hospital who sent me home with a diagnosis of a chest infection. It wasn’t until I started to become worryingly ill and Mum took me to a different A&E  that it was finally recognised and I got much needed treatment, but it was touch and go for a while and I still have lasting effects of the disease now.

If you look at my medical history, there’s a long line of medical cock-ups followed by relief and resolution and if I’m honest, I’m rather jaded when it comes to my health. I find it hard to sit back and accept diagnoses of ‘we just don’t know’ as I’ve been fobbed off on so many occasions and the less said about the birth of Sausage the better as it’s a veritable catalogue of errors.

But let’s look at this from the flipside.

What about the doctor who DID diagnose my meningitis, before it was too late? What about the nurse who laid on me to keep me still while I had my lumbar puncture? What about the surgeon who made my caesarean incision at 9.16pm and birthed Sausage at 9.17pm? What about the doctors who have helped my various friends and family, brought them back to health or made their last days comfortable?

The reason I’m thinking about all of this is that I was in hospital yesterday. Sausage and I went to the supermarket in the morning and I started to feel extremely nauseous on the way there so we rushed into the loos when we got there and I proceeded to vomit up what seemed like quite a lot of blood. Being the dickhead I am, I finished my shopping and came home to put a stew on to cook before very calmly telling Husband that I needed to go to the hospital.

I took myself off to A&E and spent five hours there all in all. I could moan about how long it took and I DID could moan about how uncomfortable the seats were but I sat there thinking about a documentary that Sausage, Husband and I watched recently about childbirth which, as a sub-plot, followed a couple who lived in an African country. The lady was heavily pregnant and had to walk for 5 hours to get to the nearest clinic once she went into labour. Once she got to the clinic, there was still no guarantee that her birth would go smoothly as both infant and maternal mortality rates were astonishingly high. She made the journey without complaint and gave birth to a beautiful baby.

All I’m saying is, five hours seems like a long time to wait but I got to do it in a clean, warm room with chairs, have free medical attention including x-rays, blood tests with clean needles and results within the hour. Yes, the NHS is an administrative cluster-fuck at the best of times, but can you imagine life without it? Could you afford comprehensive private healthcare in your family budget?

The fact that our public services are being dismantled before our eyes for the private gain of many a politician is genuinely scary and I dread to think of what will happen to the level of health amongst normal people in the UK. We’re ALL guilty from time to time of moaning about the National Health Service, but I really hate to think of the standard that it’s going to slip to before we all realise just how lucky we were to have it. I wouldn’t mind betting that the number of medical negligence cases will sky-rocket, too.

Except, by then it may just be too late…

The Freedom to Dance.

Yesterday, Husband and I took Sausage to The Village Green Arts Festival, a free event at one of the large parks near our home, which had various musical acts, dancers and artists performing throughout the day. It was a nice way to spend the day as a family, we met some friends and Sausage had a great time dancing, destroying everyone with her magic wand (that’s another story…) and nicking the food from our friends’ picnic! There were a lot of people there, thousands in fact, more people than Sausage has ever seen in one place I think, but we’re off to Cambridge Folk Festival at the end of the month, so this was like a warm-up show for her!

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