Sunday, 29 March 2015

Radiator Pipe Transformation

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

This isn't a particularly pretty or dramatic makeover, but it has made me very happy!

If you've been following for a while, you will have seen the bathroom transformation I posted about getting on for two years ago now.  (I really must take more pictures of it with bits and bobs in - it was just finished in those pictures, without any accessories.)

Since then, it has been on my list to paint the pipes on the heated towel rail... which looked like this:

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

Not exactly in keeping with the rest of the bathroom!  It's shameful that it's taken me until today to finally sort this out.

It is purely by chance that it's now complete.  A guy from my team at work showed me a before and after of some radiator pipes he'd just covered (him and his wife have moved into a similar style house as mine, so I force him to tell me every bit of decorating and DIYing they carry out!)

Not only did he enlighten me to the fact that chrome-effect radiator-pipe covers existed (who knew?!  Not me!) but - after I got ridiculously over-excited by the discovery - he brought me in some of their leftovers so I could cover mine.  I am most grateful!

If you have any that need covering yourself, this is what you need:

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

Tubes of covering which are longer than the pipes you need to cover (I believe these came from ebay), a tape measure, pencil and scissors.

Measure the pipes, mark up the correct length on the tubes (pencil probably wasn't the best thing to use, but I made it work), then cut to size.

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

You can see above that it is just a roll of the chrome-effect material that you can open out and wrap around the pipe when it's the right size - soooo easy!

So, let's see a before and after:

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

As I said, it's not a very exciting project, but I am so glad to cross that little job off the list and it just finishes things off in the bathroom at last!

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Washi Tape Pen Pot

This is a very quick easy project, using our favourite... washi tape!

Washi Tape Pen Pot : Dinki Dots

I had an empty Betty Crocker buttercream tub.  (I usually make my own buttercream, but the Lumberjack bought some for the birthday cake he made me in December.  He thought it was the best bet, after the year before he tried squirty cream which soaked into the cake, aaww.  Still appreciated, though!)

Worth mentioning too - those buttercream pots are dangerous!!  The temptation to just tuck in with a spoon is too great for a mere mortal such as myself to resist!

Anyway, back to the project... not that it needs much explaining.

1.  Remove the label from the tub and wash thoroughly.

2.  Pick some coordinating rolls of washi tape from your collection...

Washi Tape : Dinki Dots

3.  Wrap around the tub in stripes, overlapping very slightly at the back.

Washi Tape Pen Pot : Dinki Dots

Done!  It couldn't be easier.

Washi Tape Pen Pot : Dinki Dots

An unnecessary number of pictures of the finished pot for you - you'd have got the idea with just one!

It's a great project for when you feel like some instant results, and a useful item too.

And, for fun, here are my Valentine's tulips in the early morning sun back in February - the sun was catching them beautifully.

Tulips: Dinki Dots

Tulips: Dinki Dots

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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Cable and Cotton Lights

I first saw Cable and Cotton lights a couple of years ago or so and, after admiring them for some time, I am now lucky enough to be in possession of a beautiful string of their colourful lights!

Let me tell you now... what a great company and what a great product!  Customer service was spot-on and delivery was prompt.

The only hold-up in the whole procedure was my extreme indecision over my colour choice.  Damn them for their many gorgeous options!  They have pre-selected sets and the option to choose your own colours, and I veered wildly between different sets and my own colour concoctions.  Eventually I had to stop annoying myself and those around me, bite the bullet, and pick.  I was very excited when this package arrived in the post...

The balls look so pretty laid out in the box, I almost didn't want to unpack them!

Any doubts about my colour choice quickly disappeared.

I picked my own colours and chose:

Pale Blue
Sky Blue
Anais Green
Pebble Grey

The lights are available in a string of 20, 35 or 50 - I've got the chain of 20.  The balls are separate from the fairy lights when they arrive, and you assemble the string by pushing a bulb into each ball through the hole.  This means you can play about to get the order of colours that you like before inserting the bulbs.

That part was the bit I wasn't too keen on, as you have to give the bulbs quite a firm push to get them in (so that they're secure once in place) and I was nervous I'd break something.  You get used to it as you go along, though, and if the balls do bend in, you can pull them back in place - this is all explained in the simple clear instructions.

Then the exciting part - plugging them in!

They look great off and on...

And as it gets darker, they just get better and better!


Another important aspect of the Cable and Cotton company is that they are very ethical in the treatment of their tradeswomen in Thailand.  You can read more about that here.

I may be gushing, but I really do love these lights.  They make the room cosy and inviting - I can see myself succumbing to further sets in different colours for other spots around the home.  (Seriously tempted by the Turkish Delight set - so vibrant!)

I can wholeheartedly recommend Cable and Cotton - go to the website and take a look!

Cable and Cotton
Colour Sets
Choose Your Own

Disclaimer:  I have received a complimentary set of lights for the purpose of this review.  All pictures, words and opinions are honest and my own.

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Bias Binding

Last July I started making myself a top.  After much struggling, I had most of a top made in my final fabric and got to the point where I had to make some bias binding for the neckline and armholes, and that's as far as I got...

Months have passed... until last Sunday, when I gave myself a good talking to and got on with it.  The Lumberjack was working, and I thought it was the perfect time to get stuck in.  Not that he has a problem with me sewing, but for some unfathomable reason he seems to get alarmed by scissors and random scatterings of pins on the floor.  Just watch where you're walking, I say!  (I know I have a craft room, but I tend to spread throughout the house with these sort of projects!)

Anyway... I cut 1 inch wide strips of fabric on the bias, or diagonal:

I did some very fiddly pinning onto the neckline:

And some rather neat sewing, even if I do say so myself!

I can't believe it came out so well - it looks like a proper neckline!  Who'd've thunk it?!  I've never done this before, so was very relieved that it came out looking neat.

I've done the armholes too, and hemmed the bottom, so in theory it's wearable now.  I just want to add some buttons to the front, and look at shaping the back a bit, as it still has a bit too much fabric.  I'm either going to do a couple of back darts, or attempt a bit of gathering.  (My attempts at swayback adjustments on the toile didn't work out, so I scrapped them).  Once I'm finished I'll be sure to show you the top in all it's glory!

Let me just add - this binding took me HOURS!  I'd never make it on the Sewing Bee - how do they do it?!

Oh, and the fabric is actually more of a teal/turquoise colour - it looks more on the blue side in these pictures.

Fingers crossed I'll have a presentable top to show you soon!

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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Book Reviews - February

Another month of 2015 is over, and I'm here with a brief review of the books I read in February... just two again...

Worth Dying For: (Jack Reacher 15)
- Lee Child

The next in the Jack Reacher books, after reading number 14 (61 Hours) last month.  For some reason I struggled to get into this at first, but not through any fault of the book.  I think I just had other things going on, so didn't really get the chance to sit and read it enough.  Once I did get into it, however, I was hooked and really enjoyed it!

Jack Reacher has ended up in another small town, whose residents are being controlled by a nasty bunch of brothers.  There are mysteries past and present to be solved... lucky Reacher is there then!  I won't give anything away, but it was more typical Jack Reacher shenanigans, with a touch of sadness.

Sharp Objects

- Gillian Flynn

I went to see 'Gone Girl' at the cinema, and loved the film.  I later found out it was based on the book by Gillian Flynn, so I requested all three of her novels for Christmas.  'Sharp Objects' is the first one.

Oooooh, what can I say?!  I couldn't put it down - so good!  It's pretty dark, somewhat disturbing, and keeps you intrigued throughout.  Camille is a journalist who reluctantly has to go back to the hometown she's kept away from for many years, in order to report on a year old murder and a currently missing girl.  A more intense and sinister read than the escapism of Jack Reacher, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Keep away if you like a cheery read - this isn't exactly uplifting!  It sticks with you, though, and keeps you thinking about it.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book by this author!

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Organisation: Shoe Care Box

We've been slowly but surely working on our tiny utility nook.  Whilst waiting for coats of paint to dry, I got caught up in the below frivolous little project!

We already had the Variera box from Ikea.  I raided my collection of gold peel-offs from my card-making days, and got sticking.  Quick and simple, but I was really pleased with the result.

As for the contents, I just gathered all the random ancient tubs of polish and what-not that we had hanging around.  I never bother to polish my shoes, but I probably should.  Maybe I will now!  (Yeah, right...!)

This is just a small step towards a tidy and organised utility space... I hope to share more with you soon...

Check out my Organisation tab for more ideas.

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Beanbag Cube

Thanks for the great comments on my spare room.  I enjoyed reading them, as always! 

Ok... now onto a bit of sewing!  This is something I made for my nephew for his third birthday, which was a few days after Christmas.  I was a terrible blogger and didn't take any photos at all!!  So, my dear sister-in-law (thanks Roon!) took some on her phone and whatsapped them to me the other day... so excuse the phone pics, and the fact that it's a very tricky item to photograph!

A few years back, I made a beanbag cube for myself, which you can see here (in a post with pretty rubbish pictures, even with a proper camera - I hope my photography skills have improved at least in some way since then!)

From the time I made that last cube I'd had in the back of my mind to make one for my nephew, but he was only a tiny baby back then.  These days, when he comes round to my house, he loves jumping on and rolling around with mine, so I thought he'd got to the age where he'd appreciate one of his own.

And he does seem to be enjoying it!

I bought thick cotton fabric - not sure what you'd call it, but it's thicker than normal weight cotton for quilting etc.  Hopefully it'll withstand all the bouncing!  (If not, Roon - let me know and I'll fix it somehow!)

It has a concealed zip on the bottom that looks rather neat, even if I say so myself, with the zip pull tucked away - but I'm afraid I have no pictures for you.  The idea is that Theo won't notice it and start investigating the inside of the cube!  I did buy beans that come in a kind of stocking bag, though, so if he does make his way inside hopefully it won't be too messy!  He's never noticed the zip on my cube, so I think we should be ok.

Spot the Olaf peeping over!

So, a bit late - but the beanbag cube gets it's time on the blog!  You can see my other sewing projects on my Sewing tab.

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Friday, 6 February 2015

Spare Room Transformation

Well, this was redecorated last year, but I hadn't had chance to get any decent photos until now!  (There may have been a couple of boxes and whatnot hanging around, looking untidy...)

There are still a few things I want to do, but I thought I might as well show you now.  If I wait until it's perfect, it'll never happen!

Above is how the room looked when we viewed the house (estate agent picture)... and below shows the state it was in after being used as our junk room for a year or so:

Let's take a closer look at that wallpaper:

Two walls were in one wallpaper and two in the other.  When we stripped them, the walls weren't a pretty sight!

Anyway, that's enough unpleasantness for one day - let's get on to how it looks today!

The walls were plastered and painted, coving was put up, the skirting, door and carpet replaced (none of it by us, I'm ashamed to say - we got the professionals in!) and here we go... (we finally got round to putting up the blinds and pictures last weekend)...

The paint colour is Blue Boy by Johnstone's, which is a kind of light bluey/greeney/greyey colour.

We bought a corner wardrobe from Ikea, to maximise the bit of space we had.  We use it for coats and clothing we don't wear often.  The Lumberjack was insistent that he didn't want all white furniture, so we went for some wood-effect to warm things a little, with a white door that ties in with the bookcase you'll see in a sec.  (I'm still a little unsure about how it looks in the two-tone, but it's functional at least.)

I was planning to get new bedding in bluey/greeney/turquoise/lime colours and use those as the accent colours in the room.  But temporarily went with this stripy bedding from my old flat, and well, I just liked it!  Seems silly to waste money on new bedding when this looks colourful and cheery!  It also works with turquoise and lime as it has those colours in it.

I love my two peacock prints above the bed!  Hard to get a decent picture of them, but you can see them a bit more clearly below...

They are the designs of a Bristol artist called Bex Glover - you can see her work and order some of it here.  I'm so pleased with them!  I used a black Ikea Ribba frame - the black ties in well with the touches of black within the print, and I love the contrast it gives against the soft wall colour.

Here's the other side of the room:

The bookcase is a work in progress - definitely not styled!  There are more books to squeeze on somehow (the Lumberjack has a lot of books on tree and nature-related topics!)

We also have plans for that blank bit of wall, when we get the time/motivation.

So... let's get onto some before and after fun!

Definitely an improvement, I think!

Check out our other decorating projects in my Home Improvement tab.

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Book Reviews - January

I've decided to do a brief review of books I read throughout the year.  I like to see reviews on other blogs to give me ideas of new books to read, so I thought that some of you might find it interesting and it will also serve as a record for myself of what I've read.  I'm going to post on a monthly basis.

So, here goes with January's reads... I've only finished two books this month, damn that full-time job getting in the way of reading and crafting and fun things!:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
- Mindy Kaling

Mindy writes for and acts in 'The Office' (American version) - she is also the creator and star of 'The Mindy Project', a comedy series which I love watching.  As I find that series so funny, I thought I'd give her book a go.

I'm usually a fiction reader and I think this might be the first autobiography (or biography) I've read.  (I prefer to live in a happy fantasy made-up world!)  I just got the impression it would be a fun read, and I was right.  It's a quick-to-read light-hearted book.  You hear about Mindy's childhood and how she came to be where she is today, interspersed with random musings and abstract thoughts which made me laugh.

It's seem less like an autobiography and more like listening to a funny, clever friend chatter away.  If you want to relax and have a laugh with an easy read, I recommend this book.  I really enjoyed it.

61 Hours: (Jack Reacher 14)
- Lee Child

I started reading the Jack Reacher books last Spring/Summer and have now finished the 14th one.

Jack Reacher was an Army Military Policeman and the books start about six months after his exit from the Army.  He is very big, strong, and tough (not quite captured by little Tom Cruise in the Jack Reacher film!) and seems to find himself in the midst of trouble wherever he goes.  Thank goodness he's around to lend a hand and save the day!  He is a bit of rebel, and does things his own way, by his own moral code, but always ultimately for the good.

In 61 Hours, Reacher - thanks to a mini-bus accident - ends up trapped by a storm in the freezing cold town of Bolton, South Dakota.  But of course, dodgy-goings-on are afoot!  (He does encounter all sorts of mischief, this fella!)  I don't like to give away much of the story, so I'll just say that I really enjoyed 61 Hours.  It is a fast-paced, easy read, that keeps you interested and turning the pages (or clicking the button on your electronic reading device).  A great bit of escapism, not too taxing!

And that's it for January.  More next month!

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Organisation: Print Your Photos

I've made an effort in the last couple of years to start printing the digital photos I take.  You know how it is... thousands of photos stored in the depths of your computer, and on random hard-drives scattered willy-nilly about the house (ok, maybe it's not quite so chaotic, but you get the message).

I think it's a great idea to print a selection of photos each year so that you can see, hold, and access your pictures more readily.  Those stored electronically can easily get forgotten about... or worse, lost.

The problem is that it's such a faff, and so time-consuming.  In the good old days you'd get 24 photos from your film - and you'd make that last a holiday!  Or, if you were feeling extravagant, you might stretch to two films.  A whole 48 photos!  These days, you've taken that many before you've even reached your accommodation!  To then sort through hundreds (or thousands!) of photos and choose the pictures you want to print becomes a huge headache.

Therefore I've tried to make it as simple as possible for myself.  This is how:

Select photos to print on a monthly basis

At the end of each month go through the photos you've taken that month, chose a selection of photos you like, and copy these 'printables' into a separate folder.  Doing this on a month by month basis means less work in one go.  When it comes to the end of the year, you can upload everything in your 'printables' folder to a photo-printing website and order the lot.  (Alternatively, you could print them monthly depending on your preference and how many photos you have.)

Remember: if you're having trouble choosing which photos to print, don't worry - the ones you don't choose are still on your computer.  If they don't make the cut, they're not gone.  You can print them any time you like if you have a change of heart.

Use a simple album in the right size

I love the idea of a pretty scrapbook, each page decorated beautifully, but I'll never get round to that.  In the end I decided to go with a simple slip-in photo album... but the key was the size.  This takes 4.5 x 6 inch photos, which is the actual proportions of digital photos.  If you buy a 4 x 6 inch album, you will need to crop all your photos when you order your prints.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  This way, you can upload and order with minimal fuss.

I actually struggled to find a very good selection of albums in this size.  (Why are albums and frames not produced in the proportions of the photos everyone takes?!  Do not get me started on this, I could rant all day!)  Eventually I settled on a suitable item.  The album I chose was this one: 

Walther Grindy Black 6x4.5 Slip In Photo Album - 200 Photos *

Your photos just slip in and you can write a little description next to them (when you get round to it, which I haven't yet, but I've only just got the album!)

Before I seem too perfect and organised, let me just say that I ordered my 2013 photos a year ago (when I started this idea), and they've sat in the box they came in until now.  My plan to organise my 2014 photos on a monthly basis didn't happen, so I ended up doing a big sort out the other week.  I will be better this year, though - monthly photo selections will happen!

I can fit both 2013 and 2014 prints into the one album - I kept the album's capacity in mind when I ordered last year's prints so that the number I have fits in exactly.

Honestly, I love having this selection printed out to flick through.  It's better than looking on screen - plus all the duplicates and dodgy shots aren't in there - just the best ones.  Go on, do it - print your photos!  You'll be so glad you did.

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* Amazon affiliate link
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