Home Craft, Recycling, Storage

Recycled Kitchen!

This summers renovations have been really good for our space, as I have enjoyed a good kitchen for many years our expanding family has meant a greater need to create a efficient environment to fulfil our requirements! This started with a random bid on a kitchen, one of those cheeky bids that rarely pay off .

However after being let down on our first win, we finally won the kitchen which I thought was amazing! I like the new styles, twists on old shaker kitchens with there clean lines and crisp finishes but to upcycle our cupboard doors would cost over a thousand, not to mention any added base units. If the first bid had been in Good condition I could have painted the similar cupboard doors a nice blue, grey or green but thankfully I avoided the patchwork kitchen.

Anyway my bid of £350 won this bespoke kitchen, Oak doors, island, two wall units set dressers and five pieces of wooden carvery worktops, two lengths of Granite worktops with taps, double oven, hood, extractor were all included. As I always longed for a farmhouse kitchen it seemed amazing that for the cost of one worktop I could have a full fitted kitchen.

So, After a marathon of a day my husband collected the kitchen, returning he set it all down in our kitchen! The impact of the task dawned, “what now!” After my husband had a rest we built up the wall units, beautiful they swamped the space. The corner pan cupboard would only fit one space, adding the island base against the back wall and levelling we finally had an area for the massive work top to fit!

We made a little area to organise the rest of the space, the oven fit was next and as built up the kitchen around the oven centre piece I was debating whether the hood was worth the effort! I sorted my old display wall units added brass hinges to some false doors which had been used to back their breakfast bar. I added a shelf in each cupboard to fit the cooking staples and cups.

Finally I gave in and my husband began to fit the extractor hood, massive it makes the cooker a central feature. Over the next few days we used the pantry units to underfit the sink area, resetting the washing machine we added inlay drawers in a large cupboard which I can use to store vegetables, potatoes and savoury items.

I found a few of the old tiles for the walls of the kitchen these I used to fill the gaps, after I had taken down the half tiles. Relatively easy with the right tools, which I shall grout when the larger jobs are completed.

The beautiful display cupboards are set next to the computer, to this area we added a shaped off cut to make a small corner breakfast bar. This space is for our eldest to do work, a bonus as it is vital for there to be somewhere to focus away from the hustle and bustle of life, essential in a busy home.

With the units and doors in place the flooring set was in need of replacing, I chose a marbled stone effect, feeling it would be hard wearing we bought in a few packs and my husband finally finished the kitchen floor. This is the only time I have not put quality over cost, I could have spent a few hundred pounds on a bargain but they would not be as strong or hardwearing. They are visually striking, with the depth of external tiles but the texture underfoot is an added bonus that you cannot buy in the sale area.

The large tiles allow the original floor solid coverage, although a lot of adhesive is required to ensure a strong adhesion to the tiles below. We chose to order in batches, allowing us time to complete an area before collecting some more, still at the original reduced price we were offered.

A few weeks later our second purchase of tiles arrived and after cutting the first row he was called out, this left me with a bucket of grout about to dry, my daughter set for her snack time I set to work, After half an hour I had laid the two rows needed to set our unit back. It is a messy job, needs a level hand, good lines and the grout spaces even and smooth but the finish is amazing and full of texture. After a few hours the unit was ready to move back, quick drying the tiles set quickly so clean and accurate is key.

Yesterday I set the main walkway down, after stressing the need for completion I set my daughter in her highchair to eat and completed it myself, despite being full of cold. Last night, exhausted and after my daughter went to sleep I set the last few full tiles we had that I could lay, after moving the fridge to lay the floor with everyone asleep it was far too late for cutting tiles.

Before resting I cleared the table of kitchen extras, allowing a space to eat together again, the tiles look amazing and I cannot wait for it all to be complete, as I sat back to see my bespoke kitchen, designing and organising, I address the needs of everyone else first, but the satisfaction of creating with quality products is amazing!

This satisfaction as with my gardening, allotment and crafts is creating something to appreciate, from rescued plants, recycled and clearance products costing relatively nothing at all. The floor cost will be worth the investment, if cheap ceramics last twenty years these should last twice as long, taking the ware of a large family.

I have saved all extra cupboards, panels and worktops to build up in our summerhouse, but finally when work is finished we will have a space that is un-cluttered and full of character. For now I am grateful for a wonderful space, fabulous children that keep me focused and the opportunity to recycle a wonderful oak kitchen!

So today I hope to get the cuts done, lay the area needed to reset the fridge and get my husband to order the last few packs needed to finish the room. Our homemade benches and wall unit will need a second coat, the table a sand to polish down the artwork and eventually we will have managed a refurb for ten percent of the usual cost of a new kitchen.

Hopefully next week we will have shifted this cold!

Happy Renovating!


Grow Your Own, Recycling

Pop up shop!

After a previous post I decided to sell on a few of my extra plants from this years sowings. I prepared price and identification labels using stickers with the children as printed labels were not necessary for a home project.

I set a tiered stand to hold a variety of trays, including one I built from recycled pallet wood. A hammer and nails and your set just choose two side pieces for the width and use the pallet boards for the base and sides set length ways.

All of our tomatoes, Crassula, Heuchera, calendula and watermelon plants were presented for sale and set outside in a hope a few may be sold. After a few days we sold twenty eight plants at a pound per pot, their was enough for me to purchase a few more plug plants.

The watermelons plants in 9cm pots were added to the potato bed last week, some rows I left for an autumn regrow. The plants being so healthy it seemed a waste to restrict them in pots when they could be added to the ground bed. When I return they should be settled and preparing for stretching out and setting fruit.

I am choosing plants I would like for my empty pots, the cost is equivalent to paying for one or two large plants, the amount I receive I can make the most of the spares, the additional plants can be sold or donated. I have managed to fill a few of my pots with the smaller plants which most would have discarded for their need of a little revitalising.

So as the rain waters our allotment, something I am always thankful for I shall leave the weeds to another day and focus on home.

Happy Horticulture!



Home Craft, Recycling

Craft – Pyrography

Pyrography is basically burning onto wood, whether it is writing or drawing I find the craft therapeutic, the smell is an acquired taste as you smoulder designs onto the untreated wood. Untreated wood is preferred as you have only wood, no paint, varnish or plastic fumes when working inside with even with ventilation. Any varnish should be added if required after the burning is complete and you are satisfied with the result.

To complete you will need a wood burner, soldering Iron and your project piece; this can be as intricate as you decide, it depends on your resource to what can be achieved and I have been inspired locally however structured pieces aside I find the simpler the better. I recently bought one for ten pounds at Aldi’s, which is half the cost of those at craft stores. The packs include hot iron, letter templates, nibs and stand all you need is your chosen resource or wooden piece to work on.

This project is an adult only for safety reasons as the hot iron is permanently on and holds heat for a long time, so it is best completed when children are asleep. This is how I complete the projects and find the concentration required benefits from peace and quiet. If placed on skin or a flammable surface it will burn, so it really is something that requires considering before you try it.

A few months ago we collected some logs for free, after choosing the most unusual shaped piece, after a little time I chose to make a hedgehog character, I used a marker to set the features and choosing a sturdy nib began to cover the lines until complete.

Once completed I un-plug the wood burner and place on a tiled side or metal drainer to cool before replacing in the box. It is a rough design but effective and is perfect for any home garden.

So if you craft or draw this is a great kit to have, if not give it a try!

Happy crafting!


Gardening on a budget, Home Craft, Recycling

Lining Hanging Baskets

Todays small project is about re-cycling old hanging baskets, I have several wicker style which were heading to bug house heaven. Also I had acquired several metal baskets without hanger chains, the end result were combining the two and creating several wired baskets which I could plant up with my surplus plants.

Effectively I wanted a hanging pumpkin and salad garden to add to our decked area which would eventually trail down. The cost of basket likers at a pound each put me off, there are several ways that you can find using home items to save excess spending.

Bin liners, circles of carpet, or as I had found a woven tarpaulin for a pound seemed ideal. After using a large pot as a template I found the perfect size and cut out several to fit into the baskets, once lined I added compost, chains and hung them out with a selection of plants.

A few I added lettuce, salad leaves around the circumference, the small crop will be finished as the pumpkin establishes itself in the basket, perfect place to grow in a small garden. I also tried, mini popcorn, runner beans and pumpkin, the idea being to trail production down.

They are growing well at the moment, however they will require a good feeding routine to produce fruit. All in all a pound tarpaulins would line ten baskets, a saving of nine pound, I prefer this to using plastic as the woven material drains well, supporting the growth of the plants and requires no further work once planted.

So if you find yourself a few spare baskets try your own vertical allotment: courgettes, radishes and beetroot as with most vegetables can be grown in a hanging basket. Whether  flowers or trailing vegetables, the possibilities are endless…

Happy  Horticulture!




Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Recycling

A’ Frames

So Monday was a busy day, Finding myself with a free morning we ventured to the allotment, a few family jobs to complete my husband set on with painting while I built the first A’frame. Our beans have been set a few weeks now so as the first shoots formed I decided to put up an additional structure in the first bed. These frames I have used for Beans, but obviously Sweetpeas could also be set to clamber up.

The Bamboo canes set at a foot apart  was enough last year to support the rambling shoots once they finally established. So once in place I made a few ties with my wire cutters to secure the tops, crossing them over a centre horizontal cane and tying them off! Last year I covered them with container cloches to start them off but as the weather is extremely mild at the moment, and they have been started off in our small greenhouse I feel they will not stall in the ground.

Then I added the beans, one at the base of each cane, sprinkling a little slug repellent before mulching over the newly set seeds. I learnt last year that a little preparation saves returning to find your newly set crop reduced to stumps. However I always sow enough to replace what I set in the ground in the allotment at home, just in case of emergencies.

The first bed required a little weeding! so after clearing a few spaces I added some red baron and silver moon onions in the clear patches before mulching the whole bed with straw, I find this bed is quite clear of grass so the mulch will just retain moisture. I planted a mizuna last year which went to seed and a few new plants are dotted around so I will let them grow and transplant any seedlings into the salad bed.

The water is just over 750 litres, I believe before the season begins we will have a full tank. I had taken suckers of one of my variegated yukka’s at home so after potting them into pots and donating one I had four cuttings which I set in a water tray, these will take several months to root properly but along with the four I planted into pots in our front garden it will be a good return on the £10 I invested in the original.

Next I cleared my box beds, rescuing the small  strawberry plants from our walkways and setting them in trays I hope to add a few plants at home for supplying new runners to replenish those at the allotment. After adding a bag of compost it is now ready for this years Chard and Beetroot.


Happy Horticulture!


Home Craft, Recycling, Storage


This weeks home project has been to find a corner unit for our bedroom! After several days contacting people with expensive upcycled cabinets and finding they were sold I began searching for one I could create to fit the space we needed. As with many homes the chimney is central to one side of our room and just by the door, as we needed a little more storage space I decided to try and find one to fit the space.

Last week while shopping I was in my favourite store and found some Chalk paint at £4.99, I do not usually purchase things extra but knowing they are usually expensive I picked one up in a Duck Egg blue, one of my many favourite colours! So after a little investigation he contacted someone who worked in a local charity shop selling one for £35 and he went to collect it.

As he returned with the usual war stories of parking vs 7ft cabinet, he had been given it for a fabulous £10 which the lady offered without bartering on our part. The door had lost some battoning but as I wanted the cabinet top open my husband removed it, so as my daughter had her afternoon nap I began to apply the paint!

The key to chalk paint is to give a shabby chic look! I have however found I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting, so after a while the stippling began to look ornate and I relaxed on trying to completely cover the chosen surfaces. I wanted the shelves to be mahogany along with the central base, the rest I painted in the blue.

Finally using a hand carved heart I had purchased from a recent venture to the charity shop on the door centre, my task was complete! A once unloved piece of furniture has now pride of place in our bedroom and fits perfectly, the best bit is the extra paint I upcycled an old chest of drawers which just fitted the other side of the chimney. So, for £15, I had two pieces of furniture to compliment our newly decorated space!

Investing time and energy, towards a goal can be rewarding especially if you enjoy the task!

Happy Upcycling!


Allotment, Grow Your Own, Recycling

Trench Manuring!

After weeks of winter weather, with very little opportunity to travel due to our Transit being less than reliable, we finally packed our kit and children into the car for a day of resourcing. After a few chores we ventured out to a local village and collected up twenty bags of horse manure! nice I know… after bundling £10 worth into the pack of the van we collected some chips for dinner and headed back to the allotment.

For this years pumpkin bed, I planned to double dig trenches to place the manure into allowing the raised mound to re-cover the manure and act as an island for the pumpkins and sweetcorn to be set on away from the rotting manure.

As we arrived our water tank was at 750 litres, finally getting towards the 1000 target which should be plenty for this years dry season. the windy  weather meant my youngest required shelter, so reluctantly I moved our damp proof membrane to the lowest end of the allotment whilst my husband dug the trenches. It took two fifty pence bags to fill the trenches to the top, our previous supplier did double the amount but was not available, however the  opportunity to add some to the new bed was worth the extra.

Once filled, the mounds were raked over to level the ground bed which made the grand total of an hours work it was complete. The second area requires a further dig however it will wait another month, this space will allow for a large area to grow a variety of cucurbits.

Finally I re-purposed a large tyre to plant up a few divisions of Rhubarb, after putting a few bags to line the bottom, I added two bags of manure and half a bag of compost to set the new cuttings and crown in. Finding a developing crown from last years I plan to set it at the centre of the Pumpkin bed as it already has an ornamental grass to set a division between the beds.

After catching up with friends and sharing some Broccoli and plans for the year, we set off home for a comfy seat and a warm cup of tea! My daughter and I settled on Sweetcorn seeds in our popcorn planter, adding calendula, cauliflower and some indoor tomato seeds to start off inside I am looking forward to potting them on in their freshly dug beds.

Surrounded by the scent of freshly manured roses. I raked back the delightful soil I am hoping for a good harvest from the freshly dug space, looking forward to digging over the rest of the bed when time allows.

Happy Trenching manuring!


Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Recycling

GYO; Popcorn Planter!

Every now and again we have a movie night! This usually means a few extra treats which often includes popcorn, the last of which I purchased a large plastic container full from Iceland for a few pounds. As someone who re-purposes most plastics I have been trying to devise the best use for this large clear plastic container.

Planting Sweetcorn;

After a little thought I decided on a few planting possibilities, the most obvious being planting Sweetcorn or Flint corn in to grow for this year. Obviously if filling with around three inches of soil I can plant around 25 seeds easily and use the plastic lid as a cloche cover.

Planting root vegetables;

A clear pot allows you to see how things grow underneath, I thought about growing potatoes but as sunlight makes them toxic and green it is obviously not the best choice unless you have a window tint wrap to show growth and block out the light! Also carrots are another contender as they grow gradually and can be checked over a long period to document growth.

Mixed Planting;

Another idea was to place a potato in the bottom, three different types of tomato and five sweetcorn. All of these crops have different space requirements but for a small garden space would allow a large variety of crops in a small space. I feel this is one way I will use the containers I have collected lately so all of the children can grow a few varieties and track their growth over the holidays.

I have used large pots which I decorated with their names, over the last few years to allow the children to compete growing their own potatoes, additionally growing on a tomato seedling at the top until ready for planting in the ground.

Flower Planter;

If you enjoy flowers over vegetables, adding a cane tripod would allow you to train, sweet peas, while still having space for a few sunflower plants. Whatever plants you enjoy a large container whether it a pot, popcorn container or a bucket, the growing options are endless!

So next time you have a movie night! think ahead and if the cost effective way is unfortunately plastic, at least it can be re-purposed time and again without being sent straight to landfill. However if you can grow a small cornfield, in the container and create your own popcorn, it is another project that can create something unique.

If you enjoy a little art, remove labels using warm water and add your own personal touches in markers or paint!

Happy Horticulture!


Home Craft, Recycling, Writing

DIY – Thursday project!

This week has been quick due to everything we have had to complete, today my daughter was at full speed so our walk to school was energetic to say the least! I kept my own as she set the pace and eventually we made it into the house after a brief investigation of our street! Testing boundaries what fun!

So after a stern discussion on safety of staying safe and close I ventured to the garden to take stock of our work so far! The home requirements are endless but a few of the jobs I thoroughly enjoy, for example this week we purchased some plants from our local school to fill our hanging baskets. It is a bit over what I usually spend but at 50p per plant they will fill our borders and baskets for years to come. It was investment in spring colour, a few daffodil pots turned out to be twelve separate bundles which were a vibrant addition, crocuses and pelargoniums were set between for extra colour.

I have however cut back the grasses and shrubs in the front borders, as we have had a few wonderful warm days, the front garden now starting to send up this years shoots can do so without the crisp foliage of last year. Also I have removed the tiles from our small window and using a piece of wood we had left over I convinced my husband to make a sill to fit it. I think you can see it is a vast improvement on the white tiles and it cost nothing but the time and a few pounds for varnish which we had purchased to coat our table.

I have plans to visit the plot to dig in this years potatoes but I will wait for a warm day to ensure my youngest can enjoy the early sunshine! As she grows so quickly it will not be long until she is helping us plant her first seeds. As previously discussed I planted my Brassicas, Kale, Cabbage and cauliflower varieties this week. These will be re-sewn as the first seedlings are potted on but as we speak the first of our seedlings our emerging within the greenhouse. I find seeing the first shoots a real joy, these plant will be strong as they are establishing in the colder temperatures.

I have also cleared and filled a bed at the bottom of the garden which has around two metres to plant, and cleared my metre square beds of everything but the raspberries, these spaces will be used to grow on extra seedlings direct, either to pot on or as spares for the allotment. I have clearly labelled all of my pots with colourful sticks and a permanent marker, hopefully I will know exactly what germinates this year and be able to fill the gaps with whatever struggles.

So I may not have made the allotment this week but the greenhouse is full of trays and pots, all ready for the spring. A few investments in time and energy as my daughter sleeps allows for a brighter space for us all to enjoy. As the sun warms the soil, cup of tea in hand our eventful morning far behind as I set to watering my plants and completing the tasks of the day!

Happy Homecraft!





Allotment, Home Craft, Recycling

DIY – Toadstool Composter

Toadstool Compost Bin

You will need:

  • Black conical compost bin and lid.
  • Motorbike tyre.
  • Car tyre.
  • Red and white paint.
  • Large and small paintbrush.

To Create;

Step 1 – Ensure the tyres and lid are clean, this is easily done with a small hand brush and a hose pipe.

Step 2 – Add a base coat of red paint to the lid and tyres, once covered leave to dry and add a second coat as necessary.

Step 3 – Once they are all dry, place the motorbike tyre on the bottom with the car tyre on the next layer before finally replacing the lid.

Step 4 – using the tread of the tyres, mark evenly spaced circles around ten centimetres in diameter (a large art brush is ideal for this). Once they are dry  the circles can be filled with further paint, I used white masonry paint as it had a brighter finish and I felt would last longer.

The finished product was extremely satisfying, it makes a fabulous feature for a family garden, as a compost bin or filled with straw for a hedgehog house It still brings a smile when I see how fabulous they look several years on.

This method can be used to create hanging baskets and plant pots to set up turned on sticks, everything you need to create a unique space for your children to play in. I used materials collected from friends and family, using old house paints which had been set aside from previous projects.

Happy Creating!