I’m so darn chuffed to be nominated for Best DIY/Craft Blog in the Amara Interior Blog Awards this year, and if you haven’t voted yet, don’t panic (!), you’ve got until Sept 9 to place your vote to hopefully win me a place on the shortlist.
Making things – from quick craft projects to full-on DIY endeavours – is something I’ve always loved to do, and they’re the things I most enjoy sharing here on my blog. I went back through my archives to look at all my DIY and craft posts, and thought it would be good to put some of my favourites together as a round up. All of these projects could be achieved in a weekend – some are super-quick, others are a little more involved. Have a browse, and I hope you find something inspires you to get creative this weekend…
Well we are home from our holiday that was pretty much as close to perfect as you can get. After my last post, I got a message from a wise friend instructing me to switch off and just enjoy the break, and once I’d got over the initial cold turkey stress at being without wifi and 3G I found that switching off (apart from sharing pics on IG when I could, which I love to do), was really rather lovely. I can’t remember that last time I’ve come back from holiday feeling this rested and refreshed.
Anyway, this is just a quick post to check in and say hi. Once I’ve finished doing battle with my out-of-control inbox, I’ll be back with more about the campsite we stayed on, as it was a big part of why we had such a bonne vacances.
Still in France. Still doing daily battle with 3G. I am currently sat in the nearest McDonalds with a strong black coffee so I can get a quick bit of work done, so apologies for the brevity of this post! Living the high life and all that. But I figure that I made the effort to take these photographs before I went away, so it’s worth spending just a bit of time writing the words so that I can get the post published at least and you won’t forget all about me while I’m away.
I can’t remember if I told you that I’d decided to invest in a set of String shelving for our guest bedroom, as well as the set I have in my office. Now the office shelves have become more practical, I’m glad I’ve got the shelving in the guest room where I can play around with display ideas. Given my endless addition to houseplants, it’s also useful to have an extra space to house some plants – it’s a nice light spot, so I’ve found that plants thrive there (as long as I remember the spot when I go on a watering mission). I recently planted up this gorgeous ceramic bowl from Rose & Grey with a type of succulent I bought at our local garden centre. It was tiny when I got it, but it’s growing at an incredible rate. I wish I knew what it was called, but my garden centre has a habit of labelling all its succulents with ‘succulent’. Helpful. Anyway, I love the texture of the plant’s shoots against the smoothness of the white ceramic.
We’ve added a new day bed to the guest bedroom (I really need to do another room tour when I’m back in the UK), and I’ve started using the room as a little retreat. I grab a book or a magazine, make myself comfy on the day bed and relish quarter of an hour’s peace (more if I can get it). With this in mind, I’ve kept the shelves muted for a peaceful feel.
Right, I’m clocking out for now. I’m sure I’ll be back at my McD’s desk soon, but until then, au revoir mes amies x
This post is all about the holiday I’m enjoying in France right now. My thoughts were focused on packing, full of excitement and anticipation, so I quickly styled up a flat lay to illustrate that.
After almost killing myself trying to get all my work and blog posts finished before we went away, I ended up deciding that it would actually be preferable to spend a little bit of time on the laptop while on holiday rather than pulling an all-nighter before we left.
Now we’re here, and it’s lovely, and it’s everything I imagined and more. Except that somewhere along the way we made a mistake when we thought there was wifi on our otherwise totally well-appointed campsite. There’s no wifi at all and 3G is so scarce that I’m basically sat up a tree trying to write this post on my iPhone. And I’m trying to relax whilst not panicking about the work I still have left to do.
Anyway, I’d better go – I need to take care not to fritter away my data allowance. Oh, and there’s a cold beer waiting for me at our tent.
Getting my desk organised last week after the arrival of my new super-compact HP DeskJet 3720 printer prompted a massive sort out of the rest of my home office. I went through old files, binned bags of obsolete paperwork, moved furniture and generally tackled my problem areas – paperwork, reference material and office stationery – so that I could enjoy the benefits of a more ordered workspace. Just moving furniture gave the room an instant refresh – it’s almost like hitting a reset button. Other things I did:
Finally let go of a load of magazines. They were all titles I’ve worked on, but I really don’t need 15 years’ worth of magazines so I went through them and got rid of ones I couldn’t see a use for anymore
Cleared my magnetic memo wall (previously just being used to display pictures) to make it more practical and help keep me organised
Cleared the large cupboard that was so crammed full of folders, files and books that we’d given up even opening the doors. I pulled everything out, streamlined it, and relocated the files to my open shelving unit so that I could use the cupboard to store stationery supplies
Sorted a stack of books to go to the charity shop
Consolidated the numerous stacks of printer paper from around the room (I counted five) into a single pile
Packed a couple of small boxes of sentimental paperwork and put them in the loft
Went through my mountain of paperwork and filed everything away
There was definitely one of those moments mid-clear-out when you wonder what on earth you’ve done – I managed to trap myself in a corner of the room, blocked in by a half-moved shelving unit and piles of stuff. But once I’d got everything in place, I felt lighter and calmer and knew it had been worth the effort. I’m in deadline hell at the moment, with a million pieces of work due at one time, and I questioned the wisdom of spending time on an office makeover, but it has had such a positive effect on my productivity that any lingering doubts about whether it was just one of my crazy procrastination tactics have been swept away.
I want to form better habits in order to keep on top of the clutter and maintain an ordered workspace. I work from home, and I spend a good portion of time in this room, so it’s important that it’s somewhere that feels uplifting and energising. I’m mindful of how successful my touch it once principle for housekeeping has been elsewhere at home, so I kept that in mind when I thought about how I could stay organised in my office (and hopefully increase my productivity and reduce stress). These are my seven golden rules to keep me on track:
DECLUTTER EVERY WEEK Look at my office with fresh eyes at the end of every working work, identify any areas where clutter is starting to form and clear it away.
FILE PAPERWORK IMMEDIATELY Put paperwork where it lives, not start a ‘to be filed’ pile, whether it’s post’s just come through the door or the paperwork relating to a task or project that I’ve just finished.
CLEAR UP EVERYDAY Allocate time to tidy my desk and the surrounding area as soon as I finish a work session so that it’s clear and ready for me to start work the next time.
KEEP MEMO BOARD UP-TO-DATE Use the allocated areas on my newly cleared memo wall – projects, need to do, dates – to store current paperwork (so it’s not in a pile on my desk), and to help shape my to-do list for that week.
STORE STATIONERY SUPPLIES TOGETHER Keep things like printer paper, file dividers, pens, plastic wallets in one place so that it’s easy to see when they need topping up. Printer cartridges are one less thing to worry about, as I’ve signed up to HP Instant Ink – when ink levels in the printer run low, HP will automatically send out new ink cartridges. Genius.
FILE & LOG RECEIPTS WEEKLY Save time and stress when doing my tax return by logging my receipts each week, including printing off receipts for online orders I’ve placed.
CLEAN ONCE A WEEK There’s nothing worse than trying to work in a dirty space, so take time out at least once a week to give the office a quick blitz – vacuum floor, dust surfaces and clean monitor screen.
When I write it down like this it doesn’t seem too hard – doing smaller tasks regularly should hopefully avoid clutter and chaos building up and save time in the long run. If I start to fall off the wagon, I’ll head back to this post to remind myself of my golden rules, and how much happier I feel working in a tidy, organised space. Do you have any golden rules for staying organised? I’d love to hear them if you do!
Oh, and don’t forget that you can win the world’s smallest all-in-one printer for yourself. Share your own desk or shelf space on social media using the hashtag #HPShelfie, and I’ll select a winner each month during the course of July and August to receive a new DeskJet 3720 printer, plus a year’s supply of HP Instant Ink (HP’s ink replacement service monitors the ink levels in your printer wirelessly and sends new ink cartridges out to you when you’re running low). I can’t wait to see your shelfies!
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with HP, but all views and content are my own
We’ve had some exciting guests staying with us for the last few weeks as part of B&Q‘s new partnership with wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation. The aim of this collaboration is to encourage people to plan butterfly and pollinator-friendly plants in their garden to help create a better home for insects. I thought this was a great project for the kids to get involved with, and we’ll be looking out for butterflies throughout the year as part of the Garden Butterfly Survey – we’ll enter any sightings of butterflies in our garden online. And our guests? Five Painted Lady caterpillars…
We were sent a Gribblybugs pot of five Painted Lady caterpillars in a pot with their food and a care sheet. The caterpillars were tiny when they arrived but quickly grew – the pot sat on our kitchen table where we could watch their progress. After a couple of weeks of feeding, the caterpillars made their way up to the lid of the pot, where they hung in a ‘J’ shape before shedding their skin to reveal their golden crysalis. After a few more days we could carefully peel the papery inner lid off the pot (with the crysalis attached) and fix it to the inside of the butterfly cage, ready for emergence.
While we waited, we got on with planting our butterfly-friendly garden so it would be ready when our butterflies arrived. The ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ labels on the plants at B&Q were really helpful when we went shopping, especially for a garden novice like me. We planted what we’d bought in a big planter using peat-free compost (again from B&Q) and we were only just in time, because a day or so later we got to meet our first butterfly!
All our butterflies emerged within about a five-day period – we spotted the crysalis change colour just prior to emergence, but we missed the butterly crawling from the case every single time. It happens so quickly, I’d go back to check on progress and suddenly there’d be a butterfly hanging from the top of the cage, resting until its wings had set hard. We’d observe each one for a while, before releasing it onto our butterfly garden outside.
This project really captured the twins’ interest – both of them took the empty crysalis and some photographs of our butterflies in for Show & Tell at school, and I would love to repeat the exercise again next year. All of our Painted Lady butterflies have gone now, but the butterfly-friendly plants are still thriving, so we’ll keep our eyes open in the hope that we can spot some more butterflies and log them on the Butterfly Garden Survey.
Space always seems to be an issue in my home office. The room isn’t tiny, but it’s not huge either, and I really struggle to fit in everything I need, despite being acutely aware that I’m lucky to even have a room at home that I can use as a workspace. I work from home, and it’s a constant battle to keep on top of the clutter. I’m one of those people who needs the space around me to be in order for me to be able to work productively. That well-known phrase ‘organised desk, organised mind’ totally applies to me, and I’m often found wasting valuable time when I should be working, tidying up instead.
Rather than frittering away my working time moving piles of clutter from one spot to another, I decided I needed to tackle the root cause and find ways to better maximise the space, starting with my desk area. Since investing in my much-loved set of String shelves for the wall above my desk, I’ve tried to keep them decorative, but I’ve finally come to accept that that’s a luxury I just can’t afford – they have to serve a practical purpose too. I needed to use them to store more practical office gear, but it was also really important to me that they also looked good. The HP DeskJet 3720, a new, compact, all-in-one printer that’s small enough to sit on a shelf was a good starting point. The DeskJet 3720 lets me print, scan and copy like my old inkjet printer, but it’s half the size – it makes my old one look like enormous and replacing it has freed up some valuable surface space elsewhere in the office.
I also moved my notebooks and planners over to the shelves so that I don’t have to keep getting up from my chair to retrieve them when I need them. Otherwise they were always stacked in a pile on my desk, adding to the overall mess and clutter. Other practical things that have been given a new home on my shelves are a pot of pens, other stationery supplies (in the wooden cigar box), and SD cards (stored in one of the apothecary jars that only served a decorative purpose before). Obviously I needed to allow space for some green friends – not only do plants add colour and life to the shelves, but their presence in an office space has been shown to increase happiness and productivity (two things that are always high on my wish-list).
I linked the DeskJet 3720 with my mobile and downloaded the HP Social Media Snapshots app so that I could print out some of my favourite Instagram pics on the special 4x5inch sticky photo paper to put up around my desk. They don’t actually need the washi tape to keep them up, but otherwise they get a bit lost on my white wall. I am now completely addicted to this app, and have already had to order more paper to feed my addiction.
The lighting garland strung over a DIY hook on the wall next to the shelves isn’t new, but it is a great way of keep the desktop a bit clearer, as it means I don’t need to find on my desk for a lamp.
I’m already feeling the benefits of a clearer, more organised desk area – changing up the shelves has given the room a welcome refresh that’s had an positive impact on my mood and productivity levels. The next challenge is to maximise space in the rest of the room – a task I’ve been saving for this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to share the results of my efforts with you very soon!
Fancy nabbing the world’s smallest all-in-one printer for yourself? Share your own desk or shelf space on social media using the hashtag #HPShelfie, and I’ll select a winner each month during the course of July and August to receive a new DeskJet 3720 printer, plus a year’s supply of HP Instant Ink (HP’s ink replacement service monitors the ink levels in your printer wirelessly and sends new ink cartridges out to you when you’re running low). I can’t wait to see your shelfies!
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with HP, but all views and content are my own
I felt like a proper grown-up when Ben and I bought our first decent mattress together over a decade ago – going into the store, trying to find the perfect firmness, having it delivered. Fast forward 11 years, and that mattress wasn’t quite as perfect anymore. I could feel the springs, and we were both starting to wake up feeling achey rather than well-rested. Even before having kids, my sleep was important to me, and I love my bed – I need a good eight hours a night or I am an emotional wreck. Then we had the twins, and a good night’s sleep because even more precious – there’s nothing like young children to make you value your sleep. So when we were offered the chance to replace our old mattress with a Leesa luxury mattress, we jumped at the chance – especially as we could do it all from home, with no time-consuming visit to a showroom required.
What’s totally different about the Leesa mattress is that it has a ‘universal’ feel rather than the traditional soft, medium and firm feel offered by mattresses. A ‘one mattress suits all’ approach? I’ll admit I was skeptical, as it goes against all the mattress-buying advice I’ve ever known. And the second big difference? I couldn’t believe it when the mattress was delivered IN A BOX. One delivery guy, one regular-size van and a king-size mattress in a box (albeit a very heavy box). When it arrived, all we had to do was take it up to the bed, slide it out of the box (it’s all compressed and rolled up at this point), remove the wrapping and watch it unfurl itself. In a couple of hours the mattress recovers its full thickness and firmness and is ready to sleep on. It was like a magic trick!
So, the hundred dollar question. Is it comfortable? Absolutely. I have never slept on a memory foam mattress before, but I was a convert after just one night. The Leesa feels really supportive and there’s a 5cm top layer of foam that’s designed to allow constant air flow throughout the night for a cooler night’s sleep, so it didn’t feel too hot, as I was worried memory foam might. It’s hypo-allergenic which is another bonus, as hopefully it’ll help to reduce Ben’s snoring (I can only hope).
I’ll admit I was really nervous about switching our mattress, and the relief that I haven’t made a huge mistake is immense to say the least. We are both really happy with how it feels, but even if we weren’t, Leesa offers a 100-night free trial, allowing you to return the mattress and receive a refund if you don’t like it. So you’re not taking nearly as big a gamble as you think by buying a mattress online without having tried it out first. Not that I’ll be returning mine, but if I was, any mattresses returned to Leesa are donated to charity.
Is it time you upgraded your mattress? If you reckon a good night’s sleep is worth the investment (and I absolutely do), the lovely guys at Leesa are offering you £50 off any mattress order. Just click here to head over to the website to order yours.
Now I’m off for a snooze, as my bed is calling me…
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Leesa, but as always my views are totally my own
It’s about this time of year that we make our tribal announcement for our pilgrimage to the Just So Festival (read all about the Tribal Tournament that includes owls, foxes, stags, lions, fish and frogs), and I’m giving you a mega sneak peek of our costumes. This will be our fourth visit to Just So, and Ez and I have been owls every single time. Until now. Because this year we are all going to be FISH! Well, some kind of fish/mermaid/sea creature/pirate mash up to please all four members of the family. We’re so excited! The great thing about fish is the scope it offers in terms of costumes, so I’ve been busy dreaming up our face paint options, and have come up with this design, which is way easier than it looks, honest. Scroll down for the full tutorial…
Apart from the glitter, I’ve used a standard Snazaroo face paint kit. You’ll also need a pair of fish net tights (!). Here are the steps:
Use a sponge to cover the eye area with white, reaching right up to the hairline at the temples. Make sure you leave the paint to dry thoroughly.
Put the tights over the head (taking care not to scuff the white underneath) and use one hand to stretch the fabric over the forehead and cheekbone area.
Load a sponge with a contrasting colour (we used blue), and dab onto the the forehead, down the side of the eyes and onto the cheekbones through the tights (repeat on both sides of the face). Carefully remove the tights.
Use a third colour (we chose green) and go round the eyes and the top of the forehead (try to blur the edges so you don’t end up with really hard lines). You can also use a brush to add some spots of this colour to the ‘scales’ you created in step 3.
Apply the glitter (I bought glitter hexagons that are designed for use on nails, but can also be used on the body). I used the pots of glitter gel in the Snazaroo kit as glue, but you can also buy cosmetic glue or gel. I applied the glitter around the hairline, over the eyebrows and on the cheekbones. Finish with some fishy lips painted on with a brush (these won’t last long on a six-year-old but are fun while they last).
The rest of our costumes are a work-in-progress, but they will definitely feature dried moss (got mine on eBay) and seaweed that we gathered and dried on our recent trip to North Norfolk.
Are you going to Just So this year? There are still tickets available and I can’t rave about the festival enough. If you love the outdoors and all things creative and imaginative then it’s the place for you, and the magic stays with you for the whole year. You can all read about our previous visits to the Just So Festival here, and if you do go, please come and say hi if you spot me (it’s a small enough festival that I’m sure we’ll cross paths).
It’s been a while since the display on my black living room wall had a bit of a shake up, so when the team at Eco Deer got in touch about their quirky wall planters, I jumped at the chance to add a new element to the arrangement. The Eco Deer is a tongue-in-cheek take on a traditional mounted stag’s head – the backing board (made by hand from solid eco wood in a small workshop in Ukraine) has two tube vases mounted on it for you to fill with foliage, flowers or branches.
I like the black board because it matches the wall colour, but there are other finishes, including white, natural wood, gold, mint and pink, all available on the Eco Deer Etsy shop. The board comes beautifully packaged with a few fun postcards included, along with a spare glass tube (just in case!). I love the sense of cheekiness the Eco Deer adds to the wall display, and that it can be so easily tweaked to give it a new look for different seasons, or when the mood takes me. Grasses, feathers, twiggy branches, eucalyptus, pussy willow – there are so many things I want to try!
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Eco Deer, who sent me one of their planters for the purposes of this review