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!

Cheryl

5 ingredients recipes, Home Craft, Storage

Seasonal Preserves

 

Ingredients;

I cup of diced courgette (small chunks)

1 onion (diced into small chunks)

Three green tomatoes

Three yellow tomatoes

1 large mushroom (diced into small chunks)

Vegetable oil

Utensils:

Small jar sterilised

Sharp chopping knife

Chopping board/ plate

So occasionally after a few harvests you return with small amounts of vegetables which individually amount to nothing, but added together they can add nicely to a stir fry, Bolognese or chilli.

With this in mind, After collecting some small tomato sauce bottles a new cooking addition favoured by the rest of my family, tolerated by me. I decided to use the jars to preserve a few additional ingredients before they went to waste.

After chopping the additional vegetables, I begin to layer them into a jar. Once mixed i added a table spoon of oil and filled covering with boiling water. It is easier just to leave set in oil, but I cook with as little as possible as they remain textured and tasty without oil.

The bottles are left to cool adding the lid as the contents cools, this can be stored for a week and added to bolognese, chilli, stir fry, breakfast and curries. The yellow tomatoes are a real treat set to keep giving I shall save seed from our best plants, a growing first we have added them to sandwiches.

So if you only manage to collect a few bits from your allotment or garden this way you can make a meal from a small selection of fresh vegetables. My staple buys are red onions, mushrooms and peppers added to our harvest these make a great basis for any meal.

Happy Harvests

Cheryl

 

Home Craft, Recycling, Storage

Upcycling!

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!

Cheryl

Home Craft, Storage, Writing

February Frost

Today we woke up to frost and snow, as I was pottering a few days ago I came across a flower press we had bought for our children, inside was a selection of well preserved flower heads, including a few lavender and crocosmia flowers, grass and ivy. I plan on buying a frame and working with my daughters to set them. I must admit I completely forgot about the press, so they have been left for a few years.

My selection of canvas arrived and as I began to search my tapestry books it became evident my daughter was keen to try, so after she had chosen a small sampler to try I drew it out and taught her to do a straight stitch. It turns out she is a natural and completed it with several hundred re-threads as she kept losing the yarn off her needle. It was nice to watch her work, I waited until later and chose a slightly larger project which I shall work on as an when I have a moment. The selection was of a variety of colours, types and sizes which will last me a long time. My compromise has been to use up wool that I have bundled from old projects, it makes a great texture to the project that traditional yarns would not give.

My seedling and onions are still growing, the moulds and fabrics are on their way but for now I will enjoy creating and adapting the sampler I chose! In the few moments I get!

Happy Crafting!

Cheryl

Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Storage

GYO – Beans! Seed to table

So this week I purchased my first seeds and within the selection were our ‘Best of All!’, these beans are something I would sow now and put out in the greenhouse as the frost seems to be an indicator helping the seed germinate when the weather gets warmer. At £1 a pack they are very reasonable, as seedlings are £3 per tray of ten growing your own is far cheaper. Obviously if put outside they would be prone to damping off or being nibbled by pigeons or pests which is why they are put within the polycarbonate frame.

This will enable me to water as required, ensuring in April I will have some germinated seedlings to position at the bottom of my wire trellis or A-Frames. The seedlings are susceptible to being slugged so as I set the plants around a foot apart I add a ring of salt to the base until they are established and eventually mulch with straw to prevent the weeds taking over!

I tend to make a high structure for my beans, my A-frame being tied a few inches below the top of ten foot canes. These are around £3 for ten at Poundstretchers lasting several years if stored properly. I have added a few trellis arches to grow them up a variety of spaces and free up further space to climb small varieties of pumpkin.

The plants did not enjoy the heat of the past summer, so my main harvest despite early sowings were in August when the weather cooled and the rain finally began to fall. I find these can be a good crop, if you are lucky enough to save some for seed it could only cost you the price of your first pack, I saved a few of last years which I hope to sow. In the first year I purchased some green manure, I chose field beans as they can over winter, still having half a bag I will set these in after my potato crop.

Whatever varieties you choose for beans either dwarf or climbing they allow an opportunity to grow with your children, which is my plan for this weekend. So, as another round of colds, the frosty weather keeping us in! I shall be making time for them all to plant their own.

The fruit is set like tomato plants and sets from the flowers the plant produces, so once the flower is pollinated the beans will be produced, ensure the pods are mature before picking.

To save these crops, choose mature pods and set them to dry, once they are crispy store the seeds in a brown envelope or tin, away from any damp of moisture. These can be planted for an additional sowing that year or saved for the start of the following season!

There is never a bad time to sow magic beans… for little readers there is also a few books that companion the task, obviously Jack and the beanstalk, which has a great film for older children. Those lucky enough to be part of the imagination library may have received a book on peas, which shows their journey from field, factory, to supermarket, a highly enjoyable book to share! and the crops obviously grow in a similar habit!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Home Craft, Storage

DIY – A New Space!

So After a day of work, as my daughter slept I was busy adding the pallet to our new room. I find these projects so satisfying, in reality we could have waited to change rooms but my summer in hope of my spare time being used to sow and grow with the children I felt now was as good a time as any!

My toddler is an avid decorator in all the wrong ways so I try not to invest too heavily in home changes. I spent £60 on wall paper, this included some artist print paper covered in roses for the dining room which was on the list of to – do’s that was overtaken by the swift and unexpected arrival of our daughter. As I had been told to take it easy this seemed a good way to gradually increase my standing time with a little bonus for me.

The satisfaction of a clean and elegant finish even on the smallest scale can make a big difference to the winter season, decorating in summer is only completed through necessity as time is better spent outside. So after Applying the first roll I realised I could complete most of the room with the four rolls I had purchased, as I reached the most complicated corner I invested in another roll.

When I finally patched the pillar wall I realised I should have invested In a further roll but for now I am happy. My wonderful bed has pride of place, A king size, hand carved, four post bed which I purchased a decade ago for a hundred pounds will stand the test of time and I would not dream of replacing it.

A visit to a local charity shop allowed me to get four Black picture frames to set around the room at a cost of £4 pounds for them all, I will enjoy choosing the photos of our children to collage. The frames would have set me back £20 pounds or more brand new, well worth the rummage to allow me to create a personal gallery.

So for around £40 I have created a bright and airy room, that requires maybe two new pieces of furniture which I will add as I find. The curtains were from our original front room and include tie backs, even with the large bed my daughters crib and cot can still fit in with the changing unit. Additionally the girls room now has a new double bunk and is half way to completion, so in little under a week we have managed to re-use, re-purpose and recycle to create two spaces.

Happy Renovating!

Cheryl

Home Craft, Recycling, Storage

DIY – Sleeping – The Castle

A few years ago we spent a few days transforming our daughters room into a Fairy Tale castle, the many splendid examples on sale locally of bespoke bedroom furniture were priced at around £600 per bunk was far more than we were looking to spend. After a little research we devised a method to build our own.

After extending the bed using joists on either end the top bunk was extended, our daughter being a giant we wanted to ensure she had plenty of space. This opened up space for a den underneath which could be used for storage or to play in. The boards cost around forty pounds, while the paint we already had from previous projects.

The windows were slightly raised to allow a barrier to ensure that they were safe in their sleep space, with the cost of side guards at twenty pound each and with climbing toddlers this was not only an aesthetically pleasing project but made the space far safer and more entertaining a play space. The final addition was a large arch which we added two purple doors that made the den space enclosed and accessible.

To date with our family expanding we are looking to change the two main rooms over allowing the girls a much larger space so this is the first project to be started. Once complete we will have a new space and the children will benefit from a designed space to fit all of their needs.

The initial plan is adding two bunks into the larger room with a day bed with storage set as a sofa between. I hope this will allow the room to be multi functional as my oldest will need a space to relax while the youngest play. I also need a work space for them to do homework so this will be another on the wish list.

On the offset it could be an expensive project, but after sourcing the second bunk for £40 pounds it may only cost a few hundred pounds to finish a room with space for 5!

The castle above has now gone as this is to become our small master bedroom, and I look forward to decorating and adding our furniture into the modest space. Unable to paint with a newborn the wall papering will ensure I can complete the work as my daughter sleeps!
Continue reading “DIY – Sleeping – The Castle”

Home Craft, Recycling, Storage

DIY – Reclaiming space!

This week I have focussed on preparing for our new arrival, after many years working around our existing furniture and finding myself juggling the needs of our large family we finally got a break.

An impromptu search on a local selling site found a wall unit requiring a new home, for many years our kitchen has been home to our reading and crafting materials which had become a rather disorganised space. Some where that you pass through for dinner or settled in to do holiday work, not a place comfortable enough to sit and relax.

last year my husband built a corner bench that was designed to fit our room perfectly and would allow all of the children to fit in one space without the clutter of chairs. After a few days he had completed the work and I had the chance to varnish the wooden top and used a white paint to cover the sides below. The benches we had priced up for our space were a few hundred pounds each and far to flimsy for the wear and tear of family life.

The cost of the corner bench was around £50 pounds for the wood, the paint and wood stain was a mixture of products used around the kitchen previously to ensure the wood matched.

After a few hours organising and clearing the space, we cleared out the old units and I painted the kitchen wall which the unit was to be placed against. Our large American fridge was found a new home and the painting  was finished in no time. Later that evening my husband collected the unit which we had found for a bargain price of £70.

I have to say I have admired these units from afar so, as our Halloween began I was blessed with a new dining area, which finally delivered the space and tranquillity we could finally appreciate as a family. The final addition to the project will be a few new chairs to go opposite the table we purchased a few years previous, hopefully something we can up cycle to match our new space.

I have many gems which fitted perfectly into the cabinet, adding a few well-chosen items acquired from the charity shop which matched the pottery I already had completed the finish. All items which would have cost a small fortune from the garden centres from which we had previously seen them.

So, despite the lack of blogging I have managed to prepare a space in perfect time, it is priceless as it will allow me a space to work with the children, relax, bake and share a good meal.

Happy Recycling!

Cheryl

 

 

Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Grow Your Own, Harvests, Storage

GYO – Sweetcorn – Seed to Table

The weather this spring was irregular, after a few early sowings had dampened off my children and I set off a final round of seeds in a hope to grow our own little corn field. I find that larger seeds are the best to share with them, they are large enough for them to grip and place irrelevant of their age and fine motor skill ability. For this reason, seeds such as; Broad Beans, peas, pumpkins, gourds, melons, squashes and Sunflowers to name but a few are our staple sowings completed by the children.

For my littlest I obviously maintain setting the position within the pot in which they are sowing, however for my older children they are brilliant at spacing out the seeds having plenty of practice over the years. I really enjoy sharing this process with them, engaging them into counting the seeds out for and back in to their new home. It is nice to be able to work outside on a warm spring day and see their progress.

Eventually we hopefully receive wonderful seedlings, Tomatoes we try to plant early to ensure a good variety and once sown they pot them on at the various stages until their final position in the greenhouse. Obviously this is guided as they have to be careful with their seedlings, but they do a fantastic job. It can be a messy play activity as soil often escapes in the process, however I believe it is wonderful to see their faces on seeing that their tiny seedling is now a strong plant.

After potting on their sweetcorn we delivered it to the greenhouse at the allotment placing it into a tray for water. After a week they were around a foot tall so I set them in lines of 6 seedlings between the pumpkins in the bed which was already mulched with straw. The seedlings set well and grew on fantastically even in the height of the drought they were holding their own.

After waiting for the cobs to mature this month we finally removed the cobs and plants from the ground, this bed now being already dug and clear for spring the strong roots were still evident in the ground as I turned over and weeded the soil. The harvest was around thirty cobs, varying in size which was a reasonable return for our invested time and energy.

To Store;

Once clearly ripe which you can check by making a slit in the outer leaves, when the cob tassels are browning off, if the cobs are still white, a good few weeks will be needed until they are ready to harvest. After around a month they were ready so we removed the cobs and brought them home.

After stripping the outer leaves, using boiling water I washed the cobs and placed them into freezer bags. Finally placing them in the freezer, to store until ready. in the final count their were around twenty reasonable sized cobs.

The learning curve;

So from seed to table, it takes a long time to produce the wonderful cobs, which are a family favourite. It may seem a poor return but when you have a process your children can focus on and complete a few stages at a time, counting, watering, potting on and seeing the fruit ripen I believe with the amount of crops we grow the experience is both valuable for seeing how their food is grown, as a practical learning process and for reinforcing basic mathematics.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Recycling, Storage

HORT – Allotment Ecology!

Composting;

When starting your Allotment there are a few things you need to think about when it comes to green waste and recycling, the fact is allot of the waste created on preparing the land for planting. The first Compost Bin was placed in the centre of the plot, the idea being whatever area was being worked would have a relatively short distance to transport the waste.

As we arrived on the first day, pallets at the ready we found a mound of waste and rubble on the opposite plot. After collecting up the old pop bottles, felt and other waste which would have been easily accessible to our children we returned to our plot to put together the compost bin.

The simplest way is to set three pallets, two either side and one at the back securing them on either side with screws. This allows them to withstand the weather, additionally using an old decking board we secured the fronts of the side panels to ensure its stability. Using a ton bag and some cup hooks, the bag was secured into the centre of the Compost bin attaching the handles to the hooks to open it up.

In the first preparations we shifted the top layer of soil for the beds and filled the ton bag in under a week, it is not waste however as it has been sat now for over a year and hopefully will be ready to put back into the borders.

Grass Cuttings;

Another Compost bin was a hexagon, hard plastic and solid which I decided to fill with grass cuttings. After a typical year of average temperatures and wet weather the bin was full and left to over winter. The reality was in early summer the compost was ready and used as a base for one of the raised beds. Again. assigning a sealed plastic bin for cuttings ensures a quick turnaround for compost, with no activators or layer additions such as cardboard.

Weeds;

Weeds are the worst of all by products and should be kept out of the general compost bins, unless you have assigned one for bagged waste. If you are lucky enough to be on a site that allows you to burn waste products that is one option. Another is to bag them up and take them to the local skip, As the council compost heaps are generally larger and produce the heat needed to break down and sterilise the waste.

Nettles;

You would not think that nettles have a use, however if set in a place out of the main growing area they can be a valuable resource. If left to allow the butterflies to utilise until they can be harvested to produce a feed as discussed previously. This brew unfortunately smells intensely, however it can be used neat and dilute and will make a great nitrogen feed for tomatoes and brassica’s alike.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl