The big kitchen makeover- Part 1.

When me moved in to our house 3 years ago, we had a month to decorate as many rooms as possible, before we moved in. Needless to say, the kitchen got a lick of paint and left. From there, once we where a little more settled other rooms started getting more work doe but the Kitchen just stayed as it was. I’ve always known once we buy the entire kitchen will be ripped out and started over. So I haven’t wanted to spend too much on it. Until two weeks ago, I just couldn’t cope with it any longer. I needed something quick, cheap and effective.

So here it was a few weeks ago.

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Clean, functional – not so pretty.

 

First up, was sorting out those cupboard doors. I originally painted them in Anne sloane  Antique white, which was lovely, the varnish however yellowed over the past year making them look little manky. So, rather than going out and spending £20 + on a tub of paint specifically for kitchen cabinets, I used what I already had in. Remember my front of house makeover a few weeks ago? well, during that I punched a small tub of exterior paint in a beautiful slate grey colour for the step and gas mains cupboard. It comes with a six year guarantee to protect from the elements, it was just the colour I wanted and I only used a little bit, so I had near a full tin left. There was really no harm in trying.

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It took two light coats and dried the most beautiful colour!

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Whilst I was in-between coats waiting for them to dry, I gave those handles a good spray with gold.

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And once everything was completely dry (not just to touch, but really dry.) I popped those handles back on & voialla!

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Next, I needed to tackle the end of side annoyance, I’ve always hated how the dryer is just stuck on the end of the kitchen. To sort this we bought a giant piece of 3/4″ thick MDF as a side panel and a piece of worktop the same thickness as the existing ones from Savoy timber. Sam used brackets to fix the worktop to the existing sides, the wall and the MDF. the entire thing was as sturdy as it could be.

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I then filled the seam in-between the two sides with filler, left it over night to dry and gave it a good sand to smooth out.

Then came making over the kitchen worktops. I’ve debated this part of the project for a long time. and before starting I knew the risks – being I was about to spend a whole lot of time on something that could look like rubbish at the end, or get damaged so easily – so quickly and have to be ripped up anyway. But. If I didnt try, I’d never know. So, coating the sides with vinyl sheets.

First I had to take off those side metal case things. Then give it a real thorough scrub, there can’t  be one single speck of dirt or grease on those sides or the vinyl won’t stick.

 

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Then it was time for the hard bit. Laying the vinyl, I bought the DC-Fix vinyl in white marble from Wilkos (£5 per 2mt roll). To do this well, you’ll need two things to hand. A card of some sort – this is for smoothing out those bubbles. And a craft knife. You can try scissors to trim off the excess vinyl, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a super neat finish, you can pick up craft knives from hobby craft.

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Laying it, isn’t actually difficult, laying it without getting it crinkled and bubbly, well thats a whole other ball game. The only thing I can advise is start from a corner, peeling back the paper and sticking to the surface. peel back a little more backing paper, smooth out on your surface, with your card, peel back and so on. working slowly and making sure its laying crinkle free. I would recommend leaving a couple of inches excess on every side. You can always trim if its too big, you can’t add on if its too small.

The hardest bit are those really long sides. After adding on the extra piece of worktop, the longest piece was over 2mt long. its tough trying to get a whole piece of vinyl stuck down in one piece, without it crinkling and sticking together. It took me two go’s until i was really happy with it.

So, once it was laid, then came finishing up those sides, first I trimmed any excess off, and then caulked down the wall/side joint. You don’t have to do this part, but I wanted to really secure those edges, especially around the sink area which would obviously be getting wet a lot.

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Finally, I used a hair dryer, to quickly blast the bottom edges of the vinyl, smoothing it under with my card. The slight blast of heat made the vinyl mould perfectly around the curve of the workshop. giving a lovely finish.

Once finished with that, I could pop the metal plates back on and admire all that hard work.

A couple of thing that you need to know which this stuff – DONT place any hot pan/plate on the sides. They will melt the vinyl. – DONT cut food on your sides, you’ll slice the vinyl. You can counteract both of these by making sure you have a chopping board. I love my ikea one. Its huge and makes it no effort not to damage my sides.

Other than that, they are fine to use and scrub as normal. I absolutely wouldn’t use this as a long term kitchen solution, but over the next 2 years, our plans to buy this house should be finalised and the first thing that will be ripped out and re-done is the kitchen. For now, its the perfect solution.

Next up on the kitchen transformation, is the walls. Now if you follow me on insta you’ll know I’ve been popping tester pots up on the walls over the past few weeks, I’d narrowed it down to a couple of light and airy colours, but found actually after doing the worktops, I loved the colour that was already up. It was a little grubby in spots, so It definitely needed a touch up. The colour is Cosy grey – walks durable.

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Then on my list, was replacing those blinds. I did actually love them, they where of course handmade out of old palettes. But they just didnt do much for the room. I replaced them with Dunelm mill linen roman blind in Natural.

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Next, I bought a wall bracket for the microwave, giving us much more worktop room. I didnt want wires hanging directly across the wall, so I moved it to right next to the fridge, there’s a plug socket just behind. making it perfect. I also swapped the pan hanger to the other side of the room.

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And finally, it was time to fancy up the room, make it a little more personalised and homely.

I chalked up a simple design on the chalk board using this method,

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I created a print out for by the kettle (you can have the printable too, its FREE & its here.), I was bought this beautiful radio off Sam as a late birthday present.

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I popped up some fairy light on the giant thing over the cooker. (I think its art, i’m not really sure. ha ha) And, I decided to have another go of growing herbs on the window ledge. (its only the 5000th time, i’ve tried not to kill them within a week.)

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ALL of these little projects have made up my (semi) finished room.

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And here’s he obligatory before & afters.

PicMonkey Collage

The different is amazing! It’s no longer the room I hate most in the house. Although it isn’t actually all finished,  I’ll be starting phase two of the kitchen update next month. This part of the project will be sorting the Dining area side of it.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

Vanilla baked doughnuts.

Tonight marks the biggest night in food TV, The Great british bake off starts again! (Hooray!) To mark this spectacular occasion, I’ve whipped up something a little bit party-esque. Doughnuts, but not ordinary doughnuts. These are sponge cake doughnuts… way better than their fried sisters, a fab alternative to cupcakes (especially if you’re useless with a piping bag.) or even if you just need to keep the kids occupied for half an hour, these are quick and easy enough to do that. As well as being completely delicious. Anyway, lets get started.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

150g Butter

150g caster sugar

150g self raising flour

teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk.

1 150g bar of white chocolate

1 normal size bar of milk chocolate.

Food colourings of your choice.

Sprinkles for decoration.

 

 

And here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, place your butter and sugar in a bowl. Give it a good whisk up.

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Next add one egg and whisk. Repeat this until all of your eggs are combined into your creamed butter and sugar.

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Now add all of your dry ingredients, giving it a good mix up.

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Thats really it, a simple vanilla sponge batter ready to be made into doughnuts. So, now we need our doughnut tray. I found this one on Amazon. Before you pipe in your cake batter, give each ring a good rub with butter. This will make it super easy to tip out your doughnuts.

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So, I used a piping bag to pipe the cake batter evenly into my doughnut ring tray. However, if you don’t have on, two teaspoons will work fine. don’t fill your trays up completely, around 3/4 full will be just right.

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Now, pop them in the oven on 180 (fan) for roughly 10-15 minutes. Or until golden brown and baked through.

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Leave your tray for five minute for so, your doughnuts can cool a little then, before you tip them out to be decorated.

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Whilst waiting for your doughnuts to cool down, you can move on to prepping your decorations. For these I’ve kept it very simple, topping them with melted chocolate. I snapped up the chocolate and popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It may still look unmelted but give it all a good stir and it’ll be melted in no time.

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Now simply hold your doughnut and dip into the melted chocolate.

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As well as milk chocolate I decided to make up some coloured toppings too. This was really easy, melting down white chocolate and simply adding a drop of food colouring into each bowl before stirring. I went for pastel shades as well as a plain white chocolate.

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It may get a little messy whilst you finish topping the rest of your doughnuts. But they do look adorable.

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Now comes the fun part! Decorating! I used a combination of different ones, all bought at Asda.

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And thats it! You can either wait for your chocolate to cool and set, or just tuck in! They are delicious and a fab alternative to the fried version.

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Perfect.

Don’t forget The great British bake off, starts tonight, BBC 1 at 8pm.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

A quarter of a decade. – A blogworthy birthday.

I mentioned in my Full skirt tutorial last Tuesday, that last week was my birthday!! As of 17th I am 25 years old. Thats a real adult age, i’m a fully fledged grown up now!! I’m actually okay with it, getting older doesn’t freak me out like it used too, with every new year comes age… but it also brings a whole loads of other things, knowledge, contentment, acceptance. Things that make me appreciate getting older. Anyway, last year I started a new years resolution post, not on New years, but on my birthday… I thought it would be a way better time to reflect on the past year, on my goals, on my achievements, on my personal growth.

Last year, I had three goals for the following 12 months. You’ll be pleased to know, i’ve achieved none of them. Aha. Well, I mean I kind of have. but here they are.

  1. Pass my driving test – Now, this also included passing my Theory, which last year stood at a 4th time fail. This year I passed my theory (YAAY!, 5th time lucky!) I also started up my driving lessons again and am on track to take my first (and hopefully only) test this coming winter.
  2. Finish a novel – I haven’t done this, But I have been trying. On new years eve I started a story, one that I have worked a lot on. Turns out its quite a complicated adventure, and determined not to sack it off because its complicated, its been a long journey of trying to iron out those crinkles. I haven’t been as dedicated to it as i should have been, however i won’t be too hard on my self, i’m only one person and my days are jam packed as it is. I’ll pick it up once the girls go back to school.
  3. Take regular breaks from the internet. – I have kind of done this a couple of times, but right now I have a perfect balance between the online & offline world. I think that should have been my resolution, to find that.

 

So that was it, my only goals for the last twelve months. Time to set some more.

  1. Pass my driving test. I’m gunna’ get it done this year.
  2. Maintain the perfect online/offline balance.
  3. Stop finding reasons NOT to pitch potential articles to local newspapers/magazines. Just do it.
  4. Build that vegetable patch.
  5. Continue along the path of inner peace and contentment. Kind of a joke, but also kind of not. I used to be all about the rage… i’m pretty zen these days… unless I’m hungry, or tired. Ha ha

 

I think five is enough for a year, really.

Anyway, my birthday was pretty AMAZING! We planned a trip to London back in June, and by 8am on Wednesday morning we were on the M6 heading down, by 8.30am. We arrived at the gorgeous St Pancras renaissance hotel around mid-day.

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After a lovely walk in the Sunshine, we stopped off for lunch (and wine) on a terrace overlooking kings cross.

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And after a quick refresh we headed off to the Harry potter studio tour. I took about 500 photos of the tour, obviously I don’t want to share them ALL here, so I’ve narrowed it down to my top 15. Just enough to show it truly was incredible, without ruining it for anyone who may not have been.

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The harry potter tour is fairly long, (we started it at 4pm and only finished at 6.45) So after heading back to the hotel for a shower and change, we took a cab to our reservation the highly raved about Hawksmoor seven dials. I can confirm the steak is AMAZING!! Seriously, I have never tasted a steak so soft, so full of flavour, so melt in the mouth delicious. However, the other stuff to me, just wasn’t worth the price tag. It was nice, the bone marrow gravy I thought was nice, the triple cooked chips, again nice. But I felt slightly robbed of £90 for a meal that was just nice. p.s Also, NEVER order a lemonade from there. It tasted like a slightly lemon-y tonic water. bleurgh. But the hostess, on seeing that I hadn’t drank it, did take it off our bill, which I thought was very nice of her.

We stopped off for a nightcap at The booking office, which is the very cosmopolitan bar attached to the hotel. Sam gave me a list of possible place to go, to which I turned them all down, in favour of being in bed at 10pm, watching first dates. – Turning 25 in my true old soul fashion.

On thursday morning we woke bright an early, completely hangover free. And after a full breakfast down in the booking office (which was delicious. Freshly squeezed orange juice, an array of pastries, crumpets, breads, cheeses, cereals, yoghurts, as well as the cooked stuff. which was of a super high quality.) We explored the hotel a little more, before stumbling across the spa. which held the most incredible pool. I wish we had sacked off our dinner reservations, to spend the night in here, treatments, sauna, swimming, followed by room service dinner. That will be the plan for next time.

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I even managed to get a selfie on the very famous stairs held within the hotel before we checked out.

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Before starting the four hour drive home, we took a little tour around the city, being in the car I obviously didn’t manage to get many good photos. But we visited Trafalgar square, big ben, Buckingham palace, piccadilly circus, before stopping off for afternoon tea in Chelsea.

 

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And that was our very busy 36 hours in London. It was beyond incredible.

The perfect way to bring in my 25th year.

Here’s to another one.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

DIY: Full skirt tutorial.

I’m really loving creating projects on my sewing machine at the minute, I used to spend so much time on it, but I seem to have run out of love for sewing over the past year, I think that love might just be returning.

Its my birthday tomorrow, and we’ve had a trip to London booked for months. We’ll be booking into the rather fancy St pancras renaissance hotel, spending the afternoon on the Harry potter tour, and enjoying what i’ve be promised to be the most delicious feast at The hawksmoor (covent garden). I’m certainly in for an extraordinary day! Anyway, birthday excitement aside, with fancy plans comes the “what am I going to wear?” stress. Well, i’ve been super prepared for this, I bought my day outfit last month (and we’ve been promised gorgeous weather, (so I don’t have to change it YAY!) for our dinner out, I thought i’d make something a little pretty, which brings me to this tutorial. A full skirt (in the most beautiful retro grey gingham fabric I grabbed from the bargain bin at Abakan). There are a lot of different ways to make up a full skirt, this one is for a gathered full skirt, with a zip back. So lets get started.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fabric,  this depends on your measurements, but i’ll go through working it out below.
  • Fabric shears,
  • 8″ zip in a colour of your choice.
  • measuring tape,
  • dressmakers pins,
  • and of course your sewing machine, i’m using an overlocker as well, but if you don’t have one, pinking shears will do.

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And here’s what you need to do. 

 

So, before we even start with any fabrics, you’ll need to work out your measurements. you’ll need two. Your waist and the length you want your skirt to be. I’ve put on a little weight over the past few months (just generally given into all my urges, hello 11pm Timeout obsession!) so my waist measurement is 30″ and  my desired length for a mid calf midi skirt is 25″. So, below is the measurements of fabric i’ll be cutting out.

1 x 31″ x 5″ – This will be the waist band. The extra 1 inch is for folding under when attaching your zip, (1/2″ each side) SO whatever your waist measured at, add that extra 1″. The 5″ is the width, my finished waistband will be 2 1/2″, this piece s folding in half, hence the 5″

2 x 64″ x 25″ – The 64″ is the width, it sounds like loads, but general rule of thumb, for a gathered skirt the more fabric you gather, the fuller the skirt. I find quadrupling my waist size in fabric length gives me the perfect amount of fullness, I could do with a little less, but the length of my fabric was 64″ so instead of cutting off that 4″ I just kept it. The 25″ is of course the length I want my skirt.

I really hope I”ve managed to make that simple enough?

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Anyway, moving on. Once you’ve cut out all your fabric, we can get started on some sewing. First, grab your two large main skirt pieces (64″ x 25″) Now for some ridiculous reason, whilst making this up, I gathered one piece, then added the other. This is actually a longer way of going about it. So, place your fabrics against each other, fabric on the inside. Line up the edges, pin down and sew. You’ll end up with one rather gigantic hoop of fabric. Half ONE of the pieces of fabric and cut all the way up (be very careful doing this bit that you don’t snip the other piece of fabric. You want to end up with pone super long piece.

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Next, its time to get on that machine, before you start sewing check your bobbin is near full, if you run out of thread during this bit, its a real pain! So full bobbin and you can sew along the full length of fabric in one go, no breaks. Set your machine to the largest straight stitch, and you want tension at 5 for a basic cotton fabric.

Starting from one end, about half an inch from the top, sew a few stitches and do your back stitch to secure. Then carry on  all the way to the other end. When you get to the other end DO NOT back stitch and leave a long piece of loose thread before snipping away from the machine.

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Next, go back to the beginning of the fabric ( where you just started the last line of stitches) and about 1/4″ below your last stitches, do the same step, going all the way to the end. Remember, no backstitch to secure and leave a long piece of loose thread. Your fabric should look like this.

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Now, keep tight hold of your thread and pinch your fabric very gently pulling it down creating a lovely gather. You need to be very gentle with this step, if you snap the thread, you’ll have to unpick that whole line and re-sew. But putting two lines of stitches not only creates a prettier gather, it also strengthens for when you’re doing this step.

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Once you’ve reached the end and you’ve gathered all of your fabric, grab your tape measure and measure your now gathered fabric length. You want it to match your waist band fabric length.

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So, now we move on. Get your waistband fabric and take to an iron, fold it in half (pattern on the outside), Iron. Then fold under the raw edges of the waist band, hiding them on the inside of your band. Give it a good thorough iron and steam, this will keep everything nice and folded.

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Now, we’re going to add the gathered skirt to the waistband. Its really simple to do this, but can get a little fiddly. Simply lay your waistband down, open side facing to you. Slot the gathered edge inside your waistband and pin the whole lot together, not forgetting the back of the waistband. You don’t need to put your skirt right up to the top of the waistband, just an inch or so under, will do fine. enough so the waistband conceals the stitch lines.

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Now its time to sew. The best way to do this part is to go slow and steady. Make sure both the front and back of the waistband is in line before you start, and on the middle length stitch (you should have 3 stitch sizes for a straight stitch on your machine) start from one end, sewing right to the other, doing a backstitch for wither side to secure.

 

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By now, you have something resembling a skirt, but now we need to attach both sides together. To do this, fold both ends back, so your skirt is inside out. Line up the edges and place down. For this skirt I used an 8″ zip This is more than enough, it only has to give you enough room to pull your skirt past your hips. If you have a particularly long torso (i’m 4′ 11″ so that has never been a problem!) then maybe switch it for a longer zip. Anyway, with your skirt laying down, measure down from the top, the length of your zip and pin the two pieces together at that point.

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Now sew up from the bottom of the skirt, to where your pin is. Finish with your overlocker, pinking shears or using the double fold method, I wrote a post about it here.

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Now its time for the fussy bit, fitting in the zip. though its actually its not as hard as you’d imagine. First up you’ll need to prep your skirt ready for inserting your zip. To do this is really simple. Simply pinch in the edges, and pin. Of course this skirt isn’t lined, so when you’ve passed your waistband there’s only one layer, just fold that over 1/2″ and pin. Once its all pined, give it a good going over with the iron. *Note, don’t do this with those dressmakers pins that have a plastic ball head. If you do, plastic will melt over your fabric and your iron. I know this from experience. Sadly.

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And now its time to pop in that zip. Firstly, gather some contrasting thread, and set up your needle for some hand sewing.

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Next, fold over the end of your zip, the piece that starts just before the top of the actual zipper part.

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Now, with the top still folded over, slot it into the very top of the waistband. Grab your needle and thread, and tack the zip nice and tightly into your skirt. Do this all the way down and back up to the other side so the entire zip is tacked in.

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Next its time to sew your zip in. This is actually the easiest part. Just go slow, starting from the top left, working down until you get to the bottom. Stop your machine with the needle still in your fabric, lift your foot (on the machine, not your actual foot.) spin your skirt to the side and sew across the bottom for a couple of stitches. Once you’ve reached the other side, stop again with your needle still in your fabric. Lift your foot, spin the skirt so your angled ready to sew up the other side of the zip.

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Now using a pair of snips, or small scissors, snip out the contrasting thread. Now is also the time to re-sew any of that waistband that has come loose just before adding your zip.

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And thats all the complicated parts of your skirt made! We’ve one last thing to do, before your skirt is finished… and thats hem it. Now would be the perfect time to try your skirt on, make sure the length is as you want it, if you want it shorter, just give it a trim- remember though, you will be taking about 1/2″- 1″ off that for hemming, so don’t cut too much off.

To do this, simply use your over locker, fold over, pin and topstitch like I have. Or if your don’t have an overlocker, you can use pinking shears, fold and topstitch. Or you can use the double fold method here.

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The last thing to do, is to give your skirt a complete iron over, get every seam crisp, get the fabric completely crinkle free. and thats it, your gathered full skirt with zip back is now ready to wear!

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fancying up the front door.

I’ve had this post planned since about march. I’m constantly spotting beautifully coloured front doors, I’d start shopping for replacement door accessories (silver instead of the gold we had on), and get so overwhelmed by finishes, prices, fixtures. I’d end up just putting it off.

Then, I spotted a beautiful door whilst browsing Pinterest a few weeks ago, the colour was lovely, but most importantly, the fixtures were all gold. It really made me love what we already had on and it meant I didnt have to replace any of the fittings, (apart from the door knocker, but that was only because I wanted a ring one.)

So that was that, I hopped of to home base to pick up my colour of choice Stone blue in Farrow & ball exterior eggshell.

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Only to find, my local home base is pretty rubbish with what colours they have stocked. As i’m stupidly impatient,  I had a look around the other exterior paints, finding the perfect shade in stock.

Deluxe Weather shield in vast lake  *There’s a list of prices/stockists at the end if you want to pick up the same*

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So, before I take you through the (ridiculously simple) process of getting the door painted up, here’s how it started. Well, actually, it started out with one of those faux victorian lantern shaped knockers and our number screwed in just by the letterbox – but eager as ever, I forgot to take a before they came off photo.

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Its all pretty bland, and actually a bit scruffy looking. I have thoroughly neglected the front of our house!

First, I had to take off all the fittings. Its actually very easy! The Original knocker was actually screwed in a really inaccessible way, I have no idea how Sam took it off, but he did. I did the rest, and all they needed was a simple unscrewing. (FYI If you have a standard UPVC door, you can take the letterbox of by unscrewing the screws on the inside of the letter box, on the house side of the door. To get the peep hole off, hold the inside of the door part, and screw the outside part. it should come out really easily, the door handle screws off with the screws you can see very easily on the inside half of the handle.

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Anyway, so once I had cleared the door, and after filling in the holes with some filler (and leaving it to dry.).  It was time to give it a good scrub down, I used a simple soapy water and my steamer. Once it was sparkling I gave it a pat down with a towel and left for 5 minutes whilst I prepped the paint.

Applying the paint is really easy, two light coats, with a couple of hours in-between for drying time. It really is as simple as that. If your not particularly steady handed, I’d recommend taking the door completely of its hinges. the thing with this project, is if you don’t get your finish right, it really will end up looking worse. Taking the time to prep properly, taking of anything you might accidentally cover in paint is important.

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Now, I never got to try the much hyped Farrow and ball, but I can say, absolutely, that I am so glad I got this paint. The finish is beautiful. it went on smoothly, very low fumes, and it dried fairly quickly.

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After the second coat went on, I left it to dry long after it was touch dry. Luckily it was quite a nice day, so I used the time with the front door wide open to be out in the front garden fixing’ it up a little.

Finally, after a good 4 hours (at least) I decided it was time to get those fixtures back on. Including that beautiful new knocker… the inspo behind the whole project.

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As well as adding the sweetest little Summer wreath.

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And following on with fancying that whole area up a little bit, I bought some new olive trees for either side the door, ripped out that awful bit of side fence, painted the flakey area below the door (and the cupboard beside the door) and popped up a brand new door number sign.

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And thats really all it took to transform the front of our house! Not bad for an afternoons work really? Here’s the before and afters, the transformation is amazing!!

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Now, lets crack out that job list for the front garden:

– Re-home all of those plants under the kitchen window. Not looking forward to trying to transport the giant rose bush through to the back. Ouch!

– Build a raised bed under the window. 

-Find a shrub that looks beautiful all year round for in the raised beds. (Am I asking too much?)

-Pave the entire garden. There’s no need for that tiny bit of grass out there. 

-New fences. These are roughly 37 years old. I dread to think whats underneath all those layers of paint. 

– Fit outdoor light over the front door. 

So, not much to do then!

I really do think this project has been my favourite, it was really easy, not too expensive, but has maximum effect. The front of your house gives the first impression to the rest and for so long ours hasn’t done the inside any justice, I think it works just perfectly now.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

As promised earlier on in the post, here’s what I used for this project.

  • Dulux weather shield, Vast lake – Home base £24.99
  • Walk Exterior Satin, Cornish slate – Wilkos £8.50
  • Gold ring Door knocker – Screwfix £4.49
  • Plant pot- Wilkos £12 (No link sorry!)
  • Pair olive trees – Amazon £37.62 (free postage for prime members.)
  • Door number sign – Ebay £6.99
  • Faux Lavander wreath – Ebay £7.99

 

DIY: Oilcloth beach bag.

This week, I’m carrying on from what i said last week – keeping with the seasons ect. ect. So, if you haven’t seen the weather reports for the next week, go look now! *Eeeks.* Its gunna’ be HOT Which means, beach days!! So, with this in mind, I’ve made up a tutorial for something you’ll probably be needing. A beach bag, a super practical oil cloth beach bag. In the prettiest, summeriest, retro-esque gingham pattern from Abakan.

 

So here’s what you’ll need:

Oilcloth, I’ve used roughly half a metre.

Dressmakers pins.

Tape measure.

Fabric shears.

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And here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, I cut out my oilcloth pieces. I cut out 2 pieces of 18″ x 20″ (These are the sides of the bag.) 2 pieces of 23″ x 4 1/2″ (These are the straps. And one 20″ x 5″ piece. This will be the bottom.

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Then  It was time to begin putting all the pieces together. First, I made up the straps. I grabbed the two strap pieces (23″ x 4 1/2″). Folded it in half – Patterned side on the outside-.

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Second, fold the tip of each side over, so about 1/4″ is folded inside. Then pin, both edges closed.

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Now pin down both sides. You’ll want a long straight stitch for this, you’ll also want to adjust your tension right up to about 8/9 (depending on your machine) Oilcloth can be tricky to get through your machine, there’s no real fibres, or friction. So it does struggle to grip – unless of course you’re lucky to be on an industrial.

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So, thats your straps made up. Its time to move on to the actual body of the bag. For this you’ll need the remaining three pieces of your oilcloth.

First, put the two pieces of main body together, pattern side facing each other (on the inside.)

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Make sure your two pieces are both lined up. Measure up 2 1/2″ from the bottom and pin, on both sides.

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Now sew down, from the top corner, a long straight stitch all the way down to where your pin sits. Sew down both sides.

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Then fold down the un-sewn bottom flaps of your bag, making it like this…

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Place your final piece of un-used oilcloth, pattern side down on this. So the 20″ x 5″ piece. Line it all up, pin it and sew it. It is a little tricky to sew, because you don’t want to sew the two sides to each other. The best way to do it really, is to place the rectangle part down first, pin the rest of your bag to it, then sit it under the machine and sew round your rectangle. (really hope that makes sense?!) When you’ve finished, you want it to look a little like the pictures below, at either side it should be joined in a T shape.

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If you peek in the top of your bag, you’ll see its almost ready. But you shouldn’t turn it out yet.

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First you’ll need to finish your seams with either the overlocker or pinking shears. This will keep everything nice and secure.

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Then you can turn your bag out the right way, getting ready to finish it all off.

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Next, you need to chop off the top 2″ of your bag – it’ll make sense soon.

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Grab your pins again, fold over the new top of your bag by about 1/4″ and pin.

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Figure out where you want your straps (i’ve placed either and about 3″ from the end seams.) and pin in place.

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Now, its time to bring back that little stop of fabric you cut off. I overlocked mine, it’s not a necessity, but it will give a better finish to your bag. Fold over one side of it – again by 1/4″.

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Next, pin the folded side, up against the edge of the top of the bag. Its easier if you fold the bag over a bit first, you can see a bit better then.

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Then comes the most difficult part, the sewing. Its tricky with this fabric because of how stiff it can be. But, be patient, go steady and it’ll be done in no time.

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So, thats it. Your DIY Oilcloth beach bag is done. If i’m being honest, I’ll probably use this as a beach bag once maybe twice a year – it is only Summer for half a week a year.- More often than not, it’ll be the girls overnight sleep bag, or even  my shopping bag (seen as we’re charged for carrier bags now. I’m being Eco friendly!)

Whatever you use your bag for, it will be strong and pretty and most importantly, Handmade by you! So carry it with pride.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

Berry jam thumbprint biscuits.

For most of you, its currently the Summer holidays, which means trying to find a multitude of projects to keep your littles occupied.. you’re not alone, i’ve been doing the same and I think you may just appreciate  this post as one of them. I’m not big on those boxed-character cupcake sets, they taste a bit rubbish and other than having a sugar paper image of a disney/peppa pig character on, my kids aren’t overly keen on them either. One will get half gnawed, before being left amongst a trail of crumbs, the rest growing stale over a few days, before the whole lot gets thrown out. So, to save you from yet another bland cupcake, I thought I’d share one of my favourite kid friendly recipes. The ol’ fashioned jam thumbprint biscuit. The perfect rainy day activity – because it may be summer, but it certainly aint sunny.

 

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Here’s what you’ll need:

300g plain flour.

225g butter (softened)

225g caster sugar.

2 egg yolks

1 egg white

the zest of 1 lemon.

teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

Jam. I’ve used about 1/4 jar of both Raspberry and Blackcurrant.

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And here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, combine your caster sugar and butter, give it a good mix up until its all pale and fluffy.

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Next, add the vanilla, lemon zest and egg (one  white, two yolks.) again giving it al a thorough mix.

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Now, add your flour. Add it in two parts, so half, give it a good mix, and then add the second half. Its important not to over mix at this stage, the more you mix, the tougher your biscuit will be, you want soft and crumbly.

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By this point, your biscuit dough won’t look as you would expect it too, it won’t have balled up into a solid dough, instead it will look little mousse like, this is as it supposed to look. Pour it onto a sheet of cling film, wrap it up and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.

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Once your dough has chilled, you’ll be able to pull of a piece and roll it into a ball.

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Once you’ve rolled all of your biscuit balls out, its time to make the thumb prints. It is a slightly sticky dough, so if it starts to stick to you, just pop your thumb in some water before you press the biscuit down.

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Now, you can fill them with jam. I’ve used both Raspberry & Blackcurrant in mine, you only need a teaspoon per biscuit.

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Its actually much easier to do the last step whilst the biscuits are on the baking tray. Once you have as many biscuits as you can fit, filled and on your tray, pop them in the oven, near the top (but not at the top) for 10-15 minutes on 180dg. You’ll know your biscuits are done because they’ll be lovely and golden.

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Leave your biscuits to cool for at least 15 minutes (that boiling jam WILL scald you if you touch it.) before placing on a cooling rack and leaving to cool fully. Once they’ve finally cooled down, you can share and eat.

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They really are the butteriest biscuits, that combined with the sharp fruitiness of jam (the blackcurrant in particular) makes for a very delicious tea side snack.

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Enjoy.

As always, if you try this recipe, do let me know how you find it. You can find me over on Instagram & Facebook. 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

Home life project – August edition.

I’m finally back for HLP. I’ve missed the passed two months, but.. if your follow  me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know I was gifted a brand new camera last month (early birthday present.) and oh, wow.  It’s the best thing i’ve ever been given! I’ve spent the last few weeks playing around with it, practicing the different functions, trying to find the perfect balances on manual to produce beautiful pictures. So, with that in mind, I wanted this months HLP to be the best one I had done yet.

As of Last Tuesday, its official the Summer holidays. Also as of last Tuesday, we became Hen parents. So of course, we are loving being home right now, spending days out in the garden, watching them and there weird little ways, learning about them and finally we are being given eggs from our new feathered friends.

I thought this month, we’d go with Sunday. Actually, I did have plans for Saturday, but life got in the way, and I didn’t really have chance to pick up my camera until Sunday morning. Anyway, this is how our day went.

 

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Starting the day with tea & my hens.

 

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A quick Sunday food shop, means fresh flowers for me. (£1.30 for this beautiful M&S bouquet!!!)

 

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Back from Grannies & Mischa needs a nap.

 

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Out in the sunshine, digging for worms.

 

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Mishap with the swing ends with Mischa having a face full of mud!

 

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Post Sunday lunch dessert.

 

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Enjoying a post dinner laze.

 

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Play fighting never ends well.

 

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Burning of the last of that energy before bed.

 

 

So, that was our Sunday. A lovely relaxed day.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

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