Thursday, February 26, 2015

DIY rustic floating shelves from repurposed tap parts and a table top


After cleaning up after the big, messy bathroom renovation, I came across some tap parts that I thought looked kind of cool. I squirrelled them away thinking I might come up with some use for them and promptly forgot about them. Then about six months ago (I know. I am so slow with everything these days) Steve and I decided to turn an old tabletop we found into some floating shelves for the open part of our hallway that faces the kitchen. Our front door opens straight into the living room - and will do so even when we renovate the front - so we have no entryway as such for bags/keys/sunglasses etc. So the hallway had sort of become it - but all we had was a small table (actually Steve's grandmother's old vintage sewing machine table) and it looked a bit sad all lonesome. Some shelves were in order. But we didn't want anything too modern and we didn't want them to disappear into the wall. We thought we could make a feature out of the shelves by using some reclaimed timber and placing them off centre to each other on the wall. So we made these! I found a tutorial online from Vintage Revivals for floating shelves and showed Steve who took one brief look, ignored it and winged it. A couple of attempts later, he had built some shadow box shelves. Here they are just missing their tops. 


I compared our shelves to Mandi's and realised they were close enough (high five Steve!) and that's when I noticed the bolt features at the ends of her shelves. I remembered our tap parts and suggested we drill a hole in each end and just fill it with silicone before slipping them in. They were the perfect finishing touch - has timber and brass ever been a bad combination? The unstained shelf with our tap parts - this is what they look like. The tap handles screw onto the long skinny part (I think).



I'd have happily have left them the raw grey colour of the tabletop, but because we had to cut up the panels, we had new-looking timber and old, so we stained to get a more even colour. I used a walnut stain - I painted it on, left for about half a minute then rubbed off with newspaper. 


I was happy with the colour and happy with the shelves themselves. We ended up nailing them with gigantic nails into the studs and they seem to be doing ok (screws would most likely be best, but I can't remember why we didn't use them). I don't have a tutorial for you - go forth and adapt Mandi's if you like. Or wing it like we did, but here is the end result! 


The wall is open to the kitchen (to the left a little hallway takes you to the bathroom and a bedroom; to the right is a longer hallway and the other two bedrooms) so there is plenty of room to walk around and luckily no heads have hit them because of this! We hung our fishbowl there and placed a few fave pieces on the shelves themselves including vintage books my Mum handed down to me that were hers as a child, Steve's cricket trophy mug from his time playing in Wales, a bowl of nature finds, a vintage clock that belonged to Steve's grandparents and a Garfish skull the kids found a few weeks ago in a tree! The table houses my daily essentials and underneath is home to the market basket I take everywhere and a hat basket. 



I'd like to create some kind of proper entryway area with room for hats, bags, umbrellas etc once our home is extended and renovated, but for our tiny space now, this seems to work. And I do love the look of them. Especially when filled with some fave things...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Crafting: stencilled gold leaf and glitter balloons


Erm, Happy New Year! It's probably time I got Christmas crafts off the front page, right? So lets decorate balloons! Valentine's Day has passed, but these are an any-occasion craft and seeing as we're entering one of my family's major party seasons (March to July we pretty much have a birthday a week), I thought these gold-leaf pretties might work well at my two littlest girls birthday parties - one of whom is four in a few weeks and the other who will be celebrating her very first birthday at the end of March! Already! 


Customise as you see fit - a number or initial for the birthday girl or boy, spots, stripes or other patterns for other occasions. Knock yourself out! We chose hearts for Valentine's Day, because what else would you do on a holiday of the heart?! Here's how to DIY...


Your toolkit:
Balloons - we chose a few colours and had the helium added at the party shop. In my head the purple was navy but they didn't have any (how dare they ruin my plans).
Contact paper - the thinner the better. We used clear
Scissors
Gold Leaf
Sizing (glue for gold leaf. I've used regular glue with gold leaf before and it's worked fine, but I'm not sure how it would go on the balloon.)
Glitter
Paintbrush

How to:
1. Cut the stencil out of the contact paper - I cut a large heart for the clear balloon and lots of smaller hearts for the white one. Cut around the shape so you don't have a lot of excess trim - the less sticking to the balloon, the better.



2. For the glitter hearts, remove the backing and stick randomly over the balloon. For the larger heart, it's a bit trickier as the balloon is round so the contact paper won't mould to it. So, start at the bottom point and gently stick it to the balloon from the bottom up. Try and move your way up evenly on both sides. As you get to the top, you'll realise you have too much contact paper and it will bubble, so keep smoothing it out and push the "bubble" towards the middle and then pinch it at the top and centre of the heart (see second image below). It will create an even heart but slightly narrower than what you cut.



3. Paint on your sizing, being careful not to go beyond your contact paper stencil's border - just a light coat is all you need. If you're using glitter, you can sprinkle on immediately while the glue is wet. If you're using gold leaf, wait a few minutes until it is tacky before applying. Too wet and the gold leaf will just slip off the balloon. Once tacky, gently smooth over your gold leaf. You may need more than one sheet, just apply all over - it will only stick to the sizing. Smooth out any bumps and leave to dry for a few minutes.



4. Once dry, use your finger or a soft brush to brush away any excess gold leaf. I just rubbed the gold leaf all over - especially around the edge of the stencil - with my fingers. Do it bit by bit - don't rush the stencil removal as you can pop the balloon! Do it slowly and pull away from the gold leaf, not into it as it may remove some of the leaf from the heart. You can also remove the stencil before you apply the gold leaf - I tried both and they both worked. For the glitter hearts, blow or shake off excess glitter and remove the stencils, again going slowly!


5. All done! If you want a simple balloon topper too, we did this for Steve's birthday balloons: cut three different sized hearts from glitter paper and cut two slits in each heart. Then simply slide them over the string and up to the balloon - biggest to littlest.


Immy and I made up a bunch of these balloons on Valentine's Day and she decided to part with one for her little friend Kai. So we got in the car with matching blue (for him) and clear (for her) heart balloons and POP! Kai's busted. So she grabbed another one and off we went (below). When she finally got to hand it over, I was just about to say "you might want to tie it to your wrist" and .... he let it go! And boy, did it go! It was halfway to heaven in .45 seconds. That helium is fast-flying stuff! He didn't mean to and was sad to watch it fly away, but it was a sweet moment nonetheless! 


And Valentine's Day or not, those girls of mine were totally obsessed with their balloons - from painting the glue and sprinkling the glitter to tying them to anything and everything and pretending to float away with them, they utilised a good majority of the 24 hours or so the helium lasted!

PS: The purple balloon was just randomly painted with sizing at the base of the balloon and then the gold leaf applied to the brushstroke, which gives it that nice painted effect.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas crafting you could do this weekend (well, if you wanted to!)


Remember when my blog was hacked and I lost everything? Yeah, that was a fun. I have STILL not got close to reinstating everything... So I've just reposted a bunch of Christmassy posts with ideas and projects for advent calendars, wrapping, decor and ornaments, seeing as Monday brings with it the official countdown to Christmas. I'm working on my advent calendar this weekend. I have all the gifts ready to wrap and I think I've finally worked out what I'm doing! I had the idea to papercut a village and use each window and door as the advent window with a little clue on the inside. But when I cut it out it looked so cute I decided to place it in our living room window instead with fairy lights behind it so at night it lit up sweetly - the kids can draw some snow and make some paper snowflakes as well to stick above. Should be cute. Anyway, here is a sneak peek of the village...


Going back through my posts kind of made me sad my blog has practically disappeared from my life. I always have plans for it but then the inspiration runs out, or the couldn't-be-botheredness sets in, or a child starts at me as soon as the laptop makes an appearance... But my little trip down memory lane and a good five years worth of Christmassy crafts also made me kind of proud of some of my projects. Anyway, I thought I'd share a few faves - maybe you're keen to get crafty in the next few weeks?

Treasure-hunt paper-chain advent calendar 
 
 

Book page wreath - made from Stephen King's Salem's Lot (I wasn't a fan!) 


Snow globe glass bauble


One clear glass bauble, five different ways

Gold leaf gift tags

 Glittery lantern centrepiece made from... toilet rolls!!! I created this craft for Kidspot

My first homemade advent calendar (from 2009!) - little matchboxes filled with tiny ornaments for the tree and decorated with various red and white and black things!

 

Design and print your own gift wrap with your computer!  This is another one I created for Kidspot.

See something you fancy trying? Good luck and happy crafting! And happy last-weekend-in-November. Are we really about to enter the last month of the year? The zooming years are freaking me out! x











Monday, November 17, 2014

Our bathroom renovation - before and after


Almost a year to the date we ripped out our old bathroom (I excel at taking my sweet time doing things), I'm finally showing you the after! I'm making this a two-part post because I really want to share with you some tips and things I learnt from the reno and if I can dig out the receipts, I can tell you exactly what it cost too! I'd be curious as to what you think it cost if anyone is keen to guess a ballpark.

When we bought this house, we knew we'd never move the bathroom, but eventually add another. The original bathroom just housed a shower, bath and vanity - the toilet was in the laundry. It was old, original and rotten in parts - it was awful to shower in (a large percentage of tiles had broken and fallen away); awful to bathe in (slow to fill; gross and rough base) and awful to be in. Here it is just after we moved in!

It's just so attractive, isn't it? When it came to renovating it, we worked with the space we had. Steve had just three requests: a great rain-style showerhead; a bath that was quick to fill and a toilet roll holder that was vertical so the roll wouldn't fall off. I was (happily!) left to nut out the details: I wanted something clean and simple, light and white. The space needed to squeeze in a decent-sized vanity with benchspace, a bath, a shower, a toilet, great storage, a laundry baskey, kids stool for reaching the vanity (which we still don't actually have, but do have the space for!) and towel hanging space for six people. Seems like a lot of requests for a tiny space, but we managed to get it all in and even ended up with a fair bit of free space which was a nice. Not quite enough to swing a cat, but maybe a kitten!


The only main structural change to this space was ripping out the tiny, useless pantry that was opened from the kitchen and replacing it with built-in open shelving. Originally, I figured we'd just use the space that was there and just have a very narrow, tall shelf but the builder said he had to rip it all out anyway so we could choose our widths and heights of the shelf. In order to fit a toilet in (I chose the smallest I could find that wasn't plastic), we had to put the shower over the bath - not a major problem, but it'd have been nice to have two separate utilities and I've always wanted a freestanding bath, but it wasn't to be...

As for looks, subway tile was always going to feature - I know many who don't like it, but when it's white tile and white grout, I'm happy. I don't like it any other way. I wanted a dark grey floor that matched my whitewashed floors, chunky built-in shelving, at least one tiled display shelf in the shower, a frameless glass shower screen that swivelled and a wall-hung vanity to avoid water damage from the floor (every old bathroom I've ever had the pleasure of living with had water damage to the bottom of the vanity!) and nice-looking taps. Here's what we ended up with:


The only thing I'd maybe do differently is the tiled lip around the bath edge. Water sits here and stains the grout easily. I don't know what else we should have done, but I'd probably have looked into it more if I'd known that would happen!


The wall-hung vanity has enough space to clean underneath easily and because it's off the floor, tricks you into thinking it's smaller than it looks. But it's a good size - the cupboard houses a hairdryer, straightener, clippers, soaps, toothpaste, extra toiletries. I'm also so pleased the handles are the built-in variety (Steve's choice - he done good!) because I am pretty sure everyone's knees and thighs would have been corked several on any handles sticking out! We deliberately stopped the tile at that height on this wall and the opposite wall - there was no reason to continue it to the ceiling like it is in the shower. It's also decision made by budget - it would have cost several hundred dollars more to tile the whole wall. I think I made it one row too high (the kids can't see themselves yet! But they'll grow!) but it's a minor, minor oops. We could choose where we wanted to place the basin and I deliberately chose to the right to allow for maximum benchspace and also I thought it might have felt a little cramped being so close to the door. I'm still planning to add a fence-paling frame around the mirror. One day!

I had these taps picked out before anything else in my bathroom. But I struggled to find a vanity I liked that had three holes - they all had one hole for a mixer tap. But I don't like mixer taps in the bathroom - especially in the bath/shower because the kids can bump them so easily and are highly likely to play with it because it's easy to do so! I also didn't want to do two different tap styles so I spoke to the plumber and we decided to mount them on the wall over an above-sink basin with no hole! I think it turned out for the best!


The drawers have more than enough room for my minimal amount of cosmetics, sunscreen, and other bits and bobs (I've come a long way from my days at Cosmopolitan magazine where I had boxes full of skincare and cosmetics from our beauty sales! And I hardly used any of it!)


Towel hooks were the only way we'd get enough hanging space for everyone, but even then I had to cut the number of hooks on the wall back to three instead of four (didn't want them hanging over the loo!) There are two more on the back of the door - Steve likes to hang his towel over the shower screen so we all still get a hook each! Soon, we'll have an ensuite and it'll be the kids bathroom, so plenty of space for just the four of them.


Just quietly, I also like the look of towels hanging on hooks rather than on towel rails. It's always nice when aesthetics are a by-product of practicality! I've had these flower towels (from Le Souk) for about six years and they're still in good nick. The grey Turkish towel is from a new local shop called Honey I'm Home.


My nice chunky built-in shelves. I'm so glad they're here - when we knocked through the other side of the house for the kitchen, we removed the only linen cupboard. With no built-in wardrobes and minimal kitchen space, this is the only other storage space in the house. So the top shelf houses sheets and pillowcases (extra doonas, pillows and blankets are in the cabin). Next is towel storage - all rolled up! Then there is a wire basket for toilet paper, bubble bath and nappy-rash creams, cotton wool and cleaning products (it's a Kmart basket I spraypainted black). Behind the basket is more toilet paper and tissue boxes; to the side is hand towels and face washers. Lastly, a laundry hamper slides into the space perfectly for dirty clothes (though it is SUCH a battle getting those kids to put their clothes into it!). Looking out into the kitchen - notice my half-done floor? This is how it's staying until we extend - the floor needs to be continued for a little bit in the dining room and I am NOT doing it now and then redoing it in a few months time! So all painting of ceilings/walls/floors and architraves in that area has ground to a halt!


The wire basket and laundry hamper are both from Kmart. Can't go wrong with black (well, the wire basket was silver, but I painted it!)

Inside the basket - baby/kids shampoo and bubble bath/oils, tub scrub, cotton wool and loo paper. We don't need or use a lot of stuff around here. I'll let you know how that changes when my girls become teenagers! Eek!
  
Towels always look better rolled up. Our beach towels go here too, but were (conveniently!) line-drying after swimming when I took these pics.
 

The nook! It's at the other end of the shower. I thought I'd use it for shampoo and conditioner storage, but they go on the windowsill and instead I usually display some greenery from our walks in a tiny bottle, a candle and usually my all-purpose mint spray. For these pics I switched it up with the first agapanthus to bloom in my garden!

That's about it! I'll write a little bathroom renovation guide in coming days for those who could do with some tricks and tips! I'm trying to work out the look of our ensuite bathroom in our loft, I can't imagine me veering too far from this kind of look. I'm a bit of a one-trick pony! But really, I can't see this going out of style quickly - there is nothing trendy here that will date. Plus there aren't too many patterns or colours or shapes or... stuff! No need to be tricky for the sake of it or for the sake of a DIY project. Pretty and practical has always been my mantra...x

Sources:
Taps: Mondella Resonance Chrome bath set, $75, Bunnings
Vanity: benchtop (Quantum Quartz in Alpine White), basin: (Siato above-counter basin) and vanirt (BTH Noah Wall WF-900 vanity), $620 for all three, Eagles Plumbing
Floor tiles: Bellazza floor tile in Mystic Granite, $10.45 for a box of 11, Bunnings
Wall tiles: Johnson Waringa White subway tile, 58c each, Bunnings
Showerhead: Estilo Round shower head, $29, Bunnings
Toilet roll holder: Caroma Cosmo Chrome toilet roll holder, $25, Bunnings



Thursday, October 9, 2014

DIY cleaning products (that work better than anything I've bought)




Sit down. I have to tell you something. All of a sudden, I enjoy cleaning. I also am starting to despise any kind of mess and am obsessed with decluttering. Living more simply seems to be where we're heading, but that's a whole other post. This one is still about that first bomb I dropped. I enjoy cleaning. WHO AM I? I am now clearly related to my clean-freak sister Kristie and equally neat Aunty Norma. Ok, I'm not that clean and tidy yet, but baby steps... Anyway, it started innocently enough - the dishes I'd leave in the sink overnight unwashed (YES. I did that. Eww) were nowhere to be seen. In fact, if the kitchen didn't sparkle before I went to bed, the next morning would just start bad and the whole day would go downhill from there. The three baskets of laundry that would overflow for a week and be tipped out onto the floor numerous times a day to find Zak's sock's pair or Immy's undies reduced to one basket that is almost always empty because I had this novel idea to put the washing away as soon as I grabbed it off the line. The shower is scrubbed every few days; the toilet daily, I vacuum several times a week and enjoy smacking the shizz out of my rug outside with Zak's plastic baseball bat (I hang it over the swing set and get so much enjoyment out of that - take out all frustration. I even let the kids at it. Layla is particularly good at whacking it). I've even ordered some old-fashioned wooden cleaning brushes to really get into the zone. In short. I enjoy cleaning. So much so, I'd look up DIY cleaning products on Pinterest while nursing Annika. I am SUCH a social butterfly...

Everyone knows the genius of baking soda, vinegar and lemon. I've tried the usual combinations before but always felt they lacked something (and not just a decent scent!) and for a while I even did the incredible great pairing of bleach and baking soda. Hardly good for anyone - and even then, the bath stains remained and the soap scum on the shower glass refused to budge. But now, I'm happy to have found some great recipes that are pretty easy to make and actually work. Not just work, but work better than anything I've bought at the store. Not even exaggerating. And because I made them myself, I could make the packing pretty too. So I dug out some old jars and repurposed an empty Murchison-Hume into the new mint all-purpose spray, which by the way, is genius.


So far I've made the all-purpose cleaner, a tub scrub, a laundry powder and a not-so-successful (but only because it wouldn't fit through the spray nozzle) stain remover. (If I master that one, I'll let you know.) My house and laundry are smelling so scrumptious lately, I had to share with you too. 



LAVENDER WASHING POWDER*
Since moving out of home, the only washing powder Steve (and the kids) didn't have a reaction to was Omo Sensitive and the Eco Store powder. Everything else? Eczema breakouts and if I ever added any kind of softener? Rashes and allergic reactions. So to be perfectly honest, I was not expecting this to go anywhere, but they haven't had any reactions at all, which is brilliant because it smells so yummy, cleans so well and makes everything it washes feel good, clean and fresh. The original recipe I copied called for unscented soap, but I figured rather than adding essential oils, I could use the scented soap instead - that way, I can mix it up and try different "flavours" next time without having to spring for more essentials oils (I want to try peppermint next!)

You'll need:
1 bar Castile soap (I used Dr Bronner's Pure Castile soap in Lavender)
1 cup Borax (from the laundry aisle of the supermarket - Coles had it; Woollies didn't)
1 cup Washing Soda (also from laundry aisle - not to be confused with baking soda. In my searches I've discovered you can make washing soda by baking the baking soda in a try in your oven. Baking it removes one of the carbonates, meaning it's no longer bi-carbonate soda, but carbonate soda, which is washing soda. Sheesh, I am such an expert on these things now).

How to:
1. Grate your bar of soap into a bowl. The kids can - and will want to - help you with this. It is unavoidable if they are around. Just let them, a little grated skin is not going to harm your clothes! Ha!
2. Add the Borax and Washing soda.

3. The original recipe just required you to mix it together (you could add a few drops of essential oils if you used unscented soap, or if you wanted to pair to scents - I'd imagine vanilla and lavender would be a nice combination). After stirring it looked a bit too chunky for my liking. I only use cold water in my machine and wasn't sure the soap would dissolve so well. So i put a few batches of it through the Baby Bullet (a coffee grinder or good blender should also do the trick) and used the milling blade. It totally dissolved the grated soap and turned it into total powder. It looks like store bought stuff. 


4. Place in a container of your choice. At first I put it back into an Omo container I had - it filled it about three quarters of the way. But then to pretty it up, I made good use of this jar I had in the back of my cupboard.
5. Use one tablespoon of powder per load. I use two scoops of this wooden spoon.


PEPPERMINT ALL-PURPOSE SPRAY**
I'm really shocked at how well this worked. Normally, trying to get rid of marks on the bath involved spraying with whatever bleach-ish spray I had and watching it streak the bath and not actually come away when I scrubbed it. This sprays on, scrubs off beautifully and leaves it looking brand new again (my bath is not even a year old yet so kinda new anyway but it has been grubby and this clears it right up). I use it on the counter, the loo, the tiles, the shower screen... It hasn't come out of the bathroom yet, but I might make a different scent for the kitchen...

You'll need:
A spray bottle
Liquid castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap in Peppermint)
Water
Tea Tree Oil

How to:
Add two tablespoons of castile soap to each cup of water. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the mix. Then shake and spray!


ORANGE TUB SCRUB**
Ever wondered if ever there was a way to recycle your egg shells? Well stop! There is! Apparently, egg shells all ground up is basically calcium powder, which you can take as a supplement (I'd read up more on this before doing so though) or use to scrub your bathtub super-clean! Think of it as the cleaning regime's equivalent of an exfoliator. The finely ground shells are still gritty enough to scrub away at the surface, removing stains and grime. Plus it smells heavenly.

You'll need:
Egg shells - I used about a dozen and a half.
Baking soda (bi-carbonate soda). I used the same volume as whatever the eggshells made up.
20 drops of orange essential oil

How to:
1. Collect your shells over a couple of weeks. I rinsed as I used them, then left in a container. When you're ready, place in a pot of boiling water on the stovetop and boil for around 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and lie on a tray and leave to fully dry - I left them in the sun, overnight and again in the sun for a few hours before crushing.


2. In smallish batches, I gently broke them up a little more and placed in the baby bullet (a food processor or coffee grinder would also work). Using the milling blade, I blended until the shells were basically obliterated. It turned to powder. 


3. Once all the shells were now calcium powder, I placed in a jar and added an equal part of baking soda (bi-carbonate soda). 


4. Shake the jar until blended. Add your essential oil around five drops at a time, mix with the handle of a small spoon until all mixed up and no lumps!
5. Use a small spoon or your fingers to sprinkle onto the surface you want to scrub. I sprinkle onto a wet sink or bath and scrub away, adding more water as I need to. 

And there you have it! Three easy to make cleaners that make your home smell sooooo good. And not a vinegar bottle in sight. (Though my next experiment is a vinegar-based floor wash with essential oils...) I'd love to hear your own stories of using homemade products - I was pretty skeptical a while back when the vinegar/bi-carb thing didn't work. But these versions - and the castile soap - seem to be the right mix. I'm keen to try more - disinfectant, dishwashing tablets.... What worked for you?! 

And in the interest of keeping things real, here is how my bathroom looked while shooting the pics. The sink kept casting a shadow on the bottles, so I raised them with a marble board! Books to the rescue again!


Turkish towel and wooden spoon, Honey I'm Home (local store); Marble tray from Aldi; diamond jar from Hot Dollar (I think); tiny brown vase is a baby panadol bottle; brown spray bottle, Muchison Hume.

* My adaptation of this recipe from Step Into My Green World
** My adaptations of the recipes from Little Green Notebook