Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Up-cycling & refurbishing part 2

So the cupboard for the en-suite is complete and now I was on the look out for a shelving unit to go above the sink to match it, so it's back to the British Heart Foundation shop where I spy this eyesore for the bargain price of £10! It's really quite dirty & very dusty (I got the dust free of charge!)

I take it home and it's straight outside into the garden with the screwdriver to remove the fittings & doors and get to work creating a matching 'swan' from this ugly duckling for my now beautiful cupboard. Hubby now has the bug too and has helped me transform this beast by sanding it down for me while I cook the Sunday roast.

A quick masking off after dinner while hubby washes up for me and I have the wax & wire wool are out to enhance the wood. (I love this technique as it polishes as it waxes and leaves a perfectly smooth finish).

Once this is complete its time to mask of the waxed areas ready for the undercoat (hubby kindly takes over this task from me). 2 coats later and it's ready to be left to dry overnight.

Monday night and the Farrow & Ball paint is out again ready to bring this shelving unit to life and to match it up with the transformed cupboard.

Tuesday evening and the hinges are back on, as are the new brass knobs on the little doors and we're done!

I also bought a large, rectangular, pine mirror. That'll be getting the treatment too to make it co-ordinate. I can't wait to decorate my bedroom next as I'll be refurbishing the furniture that I have in there to match the en-suite units and therefore make the rooms flow beautifully together.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Up-cycling & refurbishing

We're decorating our en-suite at the moment and I've been on the hunt for a cupboard to go in there to replace the storage bench we bought about 10 years ago.

Looking around, there's either nothing I like or if I did see something it's either built in or stupidly expensive, so I decided to see if I could transform an ugly duckling from my local charity shop. Luckily we have a large British Heart Foundation furniture & electrical shop in town. Normally it's where we donate our stuff to as it's a charity close to home (dad had a triple heart by-pass). I'd called them to see if they had anything to fit, but sadly the unit the guy on the phone measured was too big, so I decided go in on the off chance of finding a corner unit to fit instead.

No sooner did I walk in the door than I spotted this ugly duckling, but I knew it had potential. I measured it up and had 7cm to spare for where I'd planned to put it, making it a perfect fit. At £40 it was an absolute bargain and just what I wanted, despite what it currently looked like. Nothing like a bit of elbow grease & hard work to make it gorgeous again and I've got plenty of that!

After a quick nip home to swap cars so that I could collect it, and a shocked face from my hubby when he saw it and in was in the house, the tool kit was out and the doors & fittings were off and safely stashed away to be re-fitted when the project was complete.

The decorative up-stand feature at the back was removed and sanded right back down to its raw pine state removing the (offensive & dirty) orange varnish. Already that started to look better. The doors were then sanded down to create a 'key' for which the paint would adhere to. I was desperate for the weekend to arrive so I could take the unit out into the garden to sand down. Thankfully Saturday was warm, dry & perfect for me to get to work on it.

The top was sanded back to pine and then waxed in a dark oak, whilst the unit sides and back were 'keyed'. The doors & unit were then undercoated and painted in Farrow and Ball 'Pointing' Estate Eggshell. With new brass knobs and the fittings replaced it's finished and is now no longer an ugly duckling, but a beautiful new swan!

I can't wait to show you my next project for in there!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Has it really been so long?

I can't believe it's almost a year since I last blogged here!  How tardy is that?  In my defence, I have started a new business from home in my spare (HAHA) time making cakes, which you can see HERE I have changed jobs and now work longer hours with more travelling time, but also have much more of a challenge to my working day.

Due to time constraints I have had to stand down as Secretary for my local Air Cadets and also more recently, after over 6 years service, as a Governor to my children's former Junior School.  I just don't have the time to stretch myself any thinner (metaphorically, not physically; I would always love to be stretched thinner physically!)

My daughter managed to get her first choice of school and started senior school in September at the same time as my son started his 6th form and A Level studies.  Following his 17th birthday in November he is now learning to drive and passed his theory test first time a couple of weeks back.  His driving test is booked, but that date's a secret for now!

I've demonstrated for Letraset with their Promarkers at a few Hobbycraft stores and continue to love these amazing pens.  I have more YouTube video tutorials in the wings waiting to be filmed and uploaded, so for all those who also love their Promarkers, please watch this space for further information.

Anyway, it's Mothers' Day in the UK a time when we realise how lucky we are for the gift of life given to us by our mums.  I wish to be the mother to my children that my mother was and continues to be to my siblings and myself.

I will try and be back soon!


Friday, 20 April 2012

British Blogger in support of British Flowers

My lovely friend, Vanessa Kimbell, a fellow local Northamptonshire girl, author and creator of the gorgeous recipe book 'Prepped' is starting a campaign to make us think about the miles that our flowers travel to adorn our lives and homes. 

Over 80% of the flowers that we buy have been flown halfway around the world and all too frequently from countries where the rights and welfare of the workers haven't been given due credence.  I know that some countries are reliant on our business and I really don't wish to encourage you to turn your back on those completely as we all have to earn our living to eat and stay healthy.  What I would like you to consider though is whether you can buy a British alternative.  Our climate may now be hot or tropical but it does produce some of the most amazingly beautiful and delicate blooms that the eye can behold.  Take the Sweet Pea for example...

They're delicate and incredibly beautiful; they have an amazing scent and will grow in abundance given the love and tending of even a novice pair of hands.

These Cosmos flowers are so beautiful and so different in variety to each other; from the delicate pastel shades of Sweet Sixteen to the striking richness of Rubenza.

Whilst these Zinnia's are just bold, spectacular and a miriad of colour!

To kick start British Bloggers in Support of British Flowers Campaign, Vanessa has invited  some fellow food & lifestyle bloggers to step up and make a difference by growing our own posy.  This is so exciting because Thompson and Morgan have offered the seeds and a fabulous prize to the best bouquet to make this campaign happen and it’s going to be gorgeous! 

You too can support this change by looking out and buying British flowers in your local supermarket, farmers markets or farm shops.  When buying a bouquet from your florist, why not ask for British flowers to guarantee the freshest, most in season blooms to adorn the recipient's life?

I've signed up to Vanessa's British Flowers Challenge and can't wait for my seeds to arrive so that I can plant and tend to them whilst watching them bloom in to spectacular home grown beauties.

Over the next few weeks, Vanessa will be researching British flowers that are currently in bloom and will be sharing those results with us.  Why not follow her and all us blooming marvellous people as we proceed to bring some home grown British colour to our lives?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Most Marvellous Chocolate & Raspberry Supermarket Cake Bake Off

If you remember, I was invited recently by Vanessa Kimbell, the author of Prepped to take part in a bit of a supermarket ingredient experiment which involved us all making a cake using the same ingredients, to the same recipe and methodology but sourcing our ingredients from our 'allocated supermarket'.

Well, we all dutifully purchased our ingredients as follows:

Aldi - Jayne
Asda - Karen
Co-Op - Ren
Lidl - Rosie (Me)
Marks & Spencer - Rachel
Sainsbury's - Carmela
Tesco - Vanessa
Waitrose - Fleur

Charlotte was due to cook from Tesco ingredients, but due to her becoming quite unwell, Vanessa stepped up to the bar and filled the place.  (Get well soon Charlotte x).

This was my cake made using Lidl ingredients.

We had two judges who were blind tasting the cakes; William Sitwell; writer, presenter and editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine and Helen from the fantastic food blog Fuss Free Flavours. They were helped by three chocolate cake connoisseurs; namely Libiana, Alice and Albert.  The judges knew the baker, as we each presented our cakes to them. What they didn't know was the Supermarket that the ingredients were bought from or the cost of the cakes being presented.  The results were broadcast LIVE on BBC Radio Northampton's Kitchen Garden show at 10am.

There was quite a vast difference between prices of ingredients purchased.  The most expensive being Marks and Spencer, with the cheapest being Aldi.  The cake costs varied from £12.50 to £6.78 per slice.

I have to say, it's really quite scary presenting such fantastic foodies with a slice of your cake, even through it's pretty much out of your hands what it tastes like as we were reliant on the ingredients being used.

It didn't take long for the first cake to be dismissed (Asda), rapidly followed by Aldi and then Lidl hot on their heels.  The judges whittled the rest of the cakes down to their final three which were placed on the top table for final judging.

I really didn't envy the judges task; 9 sumptuous chocolate cakes, decadent, rich and calorie laden!

The final three were ranked as follows:

1st - Morrisons (4th most expensive at £9.61 per cake)
2nd - Co-Op (3rd most expensive at £10.32 per cake)
3rd - Sainsbury's (6th most expensive at £8.63 per cake).

The 'budget brand' supermarkets of Aldi and Lidl were in the bottom three along with Asda.

So, if you want to make Vanessa's Chocolate & Raspberry Cake, make sure that you go and buy your own brand supermarket ingredients from Morrisons!

I had a fantastic time, the calories that I burnt off with the nerves were rapidly replaced post-judging with a slice of chocolate cake.... or two!

If you're local and want to to have a coffee and possibly a slice of yummy cake in a Most Marvellous Cafe, take a trip along to Most Marvellous on Kettering Road in Northampton.  While you're there, take a look around at what there is to offer in this most unique vintage/retro store.

Thanks to Vanessa for arranging this.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 has been and gone and I hope that you all had a lovely, happy, family time; full of love, laughter and precious memories.

I was lucky enough to spend the day with my husband, children, parents and one of my sisters.  Unfortunately my other sister was at home in France and my brother lives in South Wales, but they were in our thoughts and hearts that day, as every day.

My fave pressie from my hubbie and my two fantastic kids... a little kitchen indulgence no less ;-)

Sprouts (and lots of them) were being prepared - I lurves sprouts - mine and dad's fave veggies.  But oh WOW I look sleepy eyed and fat in the face in this one. Hellooooo diet in January!

My Christmas angel; oh how she's growing up too fast.  Unfortunately the teen isn't one to pose for the camera, so I can't embarrass show you just how he's growing up and becoming a handsome young man before our eyes.

However, as you can see, not everyone was impressed with their new winter coat!  Or was it that fact that the Santa hat had been placed on her head?

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