Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Dressing Table Revamp

At the top of our stairs is a small landing with a slanty roof. With such a small space, it’s hard to know what to do without wasting it. The very generous other half suggested I use it for a dressing table – so out we went to the local charity furniture shop, armed with my pennies and this is what we came back with. It was a little beaten up in the form of a few scratches here and there, but the table was solid and the drawers were deep and it was an absolute bargain for only £5. And so my celebratory dance took place. It was a happy moment.

I cleaned her up, gave her a facelift with a mushroom shade of paint (which I bought for the mantel piece) and swapped the old metal handles for cut glass (well, plastic) ones which cost me £1 each from the range. So for a grand total of £12, I have myself a rather fancy dressing table, which makes such a very pleasant change to doing my make up in bed. I know I reached double figures with this conversion, but it was so worth it!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Recipe : Roasted Onion Houmous

Houmous, hummous, hummus. Whatever its name, it rocks our world. So when I saw this glorious recipe here, I thought I might adapt it slightly to accommodate a few onions. And the result was AWESOME. The onions really give it an edge and the sweet chilli sweetens it up a little more too. What a treat – it’s very moreish though and all of a sudden you realised you’ve eaten a whole bowl of houmous and you need a little nap. Well worth it though.

Friday, 20 July 2012

A Little Bit of Summer

So. Apparently the weather is set to improve over here in Blighty. Well, I'll believe it when I see it. We were however, lucky enough to recently poke around other people's gardens with a garden open day in our village and with all the gorgeous flowers on display, well, the macro setting was set quicker than you can say gladioli. The sun actually came out for a brief moment so I was able to get a few half decent shots which I would quite like to try and use at our wedding which will have an English garden/shabby chic theme - which means lots and lots of crafting over the next year to make the day amazing on a tight budget, as always. We've already dried out our rose petals for confetti!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Sideboard Revamp

I know I showed you our shabby chic dining room a while ago, but forgot to show you the before shot of our sideboard. We literally gave it a revamp with just a lick of paint and what a difference. We bought it for £16 from ebay, and although it looked lovely in its natural wooden form, it looks much brighter and cheerier now.

We bought a tin of white gloss paint for £4, so for £20 in total, we have ourselves rather a nice sideboard to serve dinner from, not to mention to store all our crockery and placemats. What would we have done without ebay - our house would look rather naked.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Decked Garden Terrace

This little project was great fun but the last little bit was a mighty mission - mainly because we did it on our own. That's only two people. Lifting a wooden frame (weighing the same as our car) over two metres into the air. Shocking, I know. But despite the health and safety risks, we pulled it off a few back spasms later. If you fancy doing something similar, for goodness sake, call in a few mates to help you get it into position.

I will post a few DIYs soon to show you how to go about this properly, but the brief version will do for now. Before we started, this little space was half concrete and half grass, more a passageway than a usable area, so we decided to make it into something. This spot gets the most sun throughout the morning, so we decided to build a covered deck terrace. Top tip - if you're not in any hurry, wait for the decking to go on sale which in the UK is usually early spring and late autumn. Speaking of sales - that Christmas tree there... only £5 from our local nursery out of season. Guess we're having a real Christmas tree this year!

We built a frame out of 75mm wood, then put the decking boards down with deck screws. We secured the four posts into the ground at the front and to the wall at the back. These were secured further by cutting the deck boards around the posts for extra stability. Once the deck was down we could concentrate on making the canopy frame, which involved two planks (one across the back and one at the front) and then eight skinny planks reaching from back to front with a slight overhang. Screw these in tight. Next unroll your bamboo screening (very cheap on ebay - but you must compare prices as they range vastly). Secure with pins and screws, pulling it tight each step of the way.

Now comes the fun part. With as many helpers as possible, lift the canopy frame up bit by bit, so that you angle it in stages, placing it on different levels with each lift. We used tables and blocks of wood to build it up each time. Eventually it will only be one small lift to get it up on top of the posts. Secure with very long screws from the top and from underneath as well. You need the whole thing to withstand high winds, so making sure it's solid and stable should be your number one priority.

We than wrapped outdoor fairy lights around the front posts and made it cosy with an old Ikea table I've had since I was a kid and a wicker sofa we found on ebay for £30. I yacht varnished the wicker to weatherproof it, but with all the rain this summer, she's not holding out as well as she should, so we're thinking about covering the canopy with a thin layer of plastic in order to keep it dry underneath. That means we will have somewhere dry to sit whilst the cat and the rabbit insist on getting outside in all weathers. Someone's got to patrol the flower borders when the rabbit's on the loose.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Fish Bowl Flower Arrangement

Just a super quick DIY today - I found this old mini fish bowl vase at a charity shop for 50p. It's perfect for adding a little water and dropping in a big old bloom such as this lovely yellow rose. A super simple flower arrangement but with big impact. So next time you're thrifting, look out for some stylised containers to find new ways for displaying flowers.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Welly Boot Plant Pots

As a few of you know, I like my wellies. And I like to wear cheery welly boots to brighten up the days when I'm usually wearing them. But because of over-use with all the lovely rain the UK, they usually break quite quickly. So what do you do with all your spare wellington boots? Plant them up of course.

Be sure to drill a few drainage holes around the edges of the base of the boots, drop a few pebbles to the bottom and then fill with soil. Then fill your boots with a variety of flowers to compliment your welly design. I used geraniums, begonias and petunias and they look gorgeously quirky, making me smile each time I see them.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Garden Pergola

Behold, the classic pergola. Obviously on the cheap. This section of the garden was perfect for a dining table but needed breaking up so a pergola seemed the perfect solution. Eventually when the wisteria and roses have grown up over the top, it will provide a romantic natural shelter from the sun. However given our climate, I’m not entirely certain we need shelter from the sun, more like a nuclear generator to produce more sun if anything, but then the activists would get involved and costs would sky rocket.

This was very easy to achieve and makes a very big impact within such a small space. I’ll do a proper DIY one day when I can find all the photos, but basically measure out where you want your uprights will go, wallop in some spiked post holders if you have earth, use floor mounted post holders with wall brackets if you have concrete. Get all your upright posts in place and secure with runners screwed in each side to help maintain its shape and support the structure – dust off your trusty spirit level to help you get this spot on. We used 75x75mm posts which were just over 2m high.

Next gather your cross beams and lay them on top at even intervals. We used 40x40mm lengths which were long enough and light too and fixed them to the runners each side. You could always saw them at angles at the ends for decoration, but because our pergola was fairly low in accordance with the house, we didn’t want anybody’s eyes to suffer with any over-zealous jumping - just in case. Finish your design with festoon lights (thanks D&L for your inspiration!) which make the area magical in the evening, giving a real party vibe to alfresco dining. We can recommend getting a delivery from a wood merchants rather than a DIY store – the wood is about half the price.

We made this whole little scene come together by utilising an old stained work bench from the garage. It’s wondrous what a waterproof table cloth can hide. I built the bench at the back out of scrap wood which comfortably seats three people and the chairs we found on sale online. Now we just need the good weather to allow us to eat outside a bit more in the evenings. Still, we always have the wine bar a few feet away.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Recipe : Ham & Egg Parcels

I printed out a picture of these bad boys a while back which keeps making me drawl, but I'm not sure where it came from originaly, needless to say the idea probably came from a foodie genius. These are so tasty and so easy and very, very addictive, so make sure you make lots to keep your guests sweet.

All you need is a muffin tin, make your hammy craters, pop in your eggs and garnish before popping in the oven. Do not underestimate this scrummy little treat, seriously good for breakfasts or snacks, or as posh ham, egg & chips for dinner. So good.