DIY Comfy Jeans Hack!

I just had to share this amazing video I found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG0YssaRzls OK, so it’s for maternity jeans, but it will actually turn any uncomfortably tight jeans into a wonderfully comfy pair, with a soft, roll-down waistband. A waistband that can expand and contract with you! All you need is the offending jeans and an old top.

You just cut off the waistband and belt loops of your old jeans and the shoulders/ arms off your top. Then join the two together – et voila! I found it a nightmare to try and unpick the belt loops, so I did cut them off which left small holes. I just darned mine, but you could also just cut an extra centimetre or two off the waist so that you don’t need to worry.

I just made a pair with some jeans I was going to give to the charity shop because they weren’t a great fit, with a really low waistband and a slightly worn vest top which was too tight under the arms. So, these are basically free, new trousers and it only took me about 30 minutes from start to finish!

Ta da!

 

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How to Upcycle Old Kitchen Cabinets For Any Room

We just pulled some really old, 1970s kitchen cabinets from our garage. They had probably been the original kitchen in our house, but were then relegated to garage storage about 15 years ago. As you can see, they were dark wood formica, square and simple type of design. Unfortunately because they’d been in the garage, they’d become stained, chipped and the laminate was peeling. Despite all of this, I decided they were probably salvageable.

I peeled off the peeling layers of laminate and underneath I found 40 year old, decaying and yellowing glue. This had to be cleaned off, if I had any chance of saving these from landfill. Cream cleaner didn’t shift it, so it ended up being a tough job with a Stanley blade scraper. Even then, they didn’t come up clean and I knew I wouldn’t be able to paint over that combination of laminate and old glue successful.

Cue- Fablon! Remember that sticky-backed plastic from Blue Peter, that seemed to be in every make?! Well, it turned out to be a fabulous, cheap fix for my vintage cupboard. I bought 1 roll of white wood effect and 2 rolls of this beautiful, contour rose, pink lace patterned for the inside. It definitely sticks better to the smooth laminate surface, but it’s done a good enough job at sticking over the rough gluey surface and making the cupboard look passable again. Just make sure that you measure twice and cut once! I also purchased a Coral smoothing tool and it was definitely worthwhile. It can also be used to smooth wallpaper, should I ever get around to anymore decorating.

As you’ll notice, I removed the doors and discarded them – I wanted that modern, open shelving look. These may not be perfect, but I was looking for good enough. Plus, you’re not going to see much of them, once they’re up and filled with books and knick-knacks. I have 2 more kicking about in the garage and I’m very tempted to upcycle the rest. After all, I’ve only had to pay for the Fablon, approx £20 and new cupboards would have been a hell of a lot more.

After this success, I can see myself attempting a whole range of projects with Fablon. It gives a really professional finish, if you take the time to do good preparation. It has utterly transformed this cabinet and I can see myself doing simple tasks too, like covering books or other pieces of furniture to match.

Over to you – have you ever tried Fablon? There are a huge range of colours and patterns available.

Things that have Gone – 17

I’m back on the decluttering bandwagon again! Now that summer is over, it’s time to get my house in order again. I’ve always got more clothes to get rid of, I’ve admitted before that I have faro many. But this year, I have made a real and concerted effort to address this. A lot of my clothes are vintage items and although I love vintage clothes, I think it’s time to admit that most of the time they are just not as practical to wear. They tend to be the ones left hanging for months and years, and that just makes no sense. So, I am trying to downsize my collection. The other area of weakness in this house is the acquisition of DVDs. So we have resolved to try not to buy any more, without watching some of what we have.

In the last couple of weeks, I have sold 13 items on eBay.

 

  1. Jasper Conran Applique Cord Skirt
  2. Vintage Laura Ashley tea dress
  3. Vintage Laura Ashley gypsy skirt
  4. Underwear set
  5. John Rocha T-shirt
  6. Vintage Laura Ashley tea dress
  7. M&S leather skirt
  8. M&S cashmere cardigan
  9. Thor DVD
  10. Vintage Laura Ashley tea dress
  11. Maleficent DVD
  12. The Skeleton Twins DVD
  13. Phase Eight Sequinned T-shirt

I plan to get ruthless this time, I’m giving myself a deadline and if things don’t sell – then they’re going to the charity shop. I’m not keeping things going round and round on eBay for a year, before they sell. My space is more valuable!

Are you decluttering? If you care to share, then I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

Upcycling a Child’s Table to Make a Board Game Table

We’re big board game fans in this house and we regularly have friends over for ‘Games Night’. We’re all feeling our age and finding it a bit hard going to sit on the floor for hours. Our dining room table is quite small, as there’s just the two of us normally and it gets used for food on these nights. So we’d been keeping an eye out in all the usual places for a suitable ‘games table’. My idea had been that we would acquire one of those retro card tables from the 1950s or earlier, which have a felt top and often fold out. However, as they’re mostly designed for Bridge – they tend to be quite small. All of the ones we saw were also in poor condition or had very high asking prices! We also looked in charity shops for some kind of gate leg table, but as minimalists – it would be a big decision to bring another large item of furniture into the house. They also require chairs and we really wanted something more like a coffee table height, so people could either remain in armchairs (or sit on the floor – more on an answer to that later).

I spotted this child’s play table in a charity shop locally and knew instantly it was a great find. I described it to my other half, but he was unconvinced (mostly because I’d shown him so many unsuitable items on eBay! lol) They were also asking £25 for it, which seemed quite steep to us. Still, he dutifully agreed to come and look at that weekend.Well guess what – the shop was closed! We then got tied up with well, life and totally forgot to go back until we were passing about a week later. Helpfully the table was still there and they’d reduced all furniture to half price, to try and clear some space in the shop. We expressed an interest in the table and asked if we would pull it out, to fully check the condition of it. The manager said we could have it for a tenner! (She obviously wanted rid of it).

It turns out that this little beauty is made of solid wood and retails for about £150 when new. You can also be lucky enough to pick up second-hand ones on eBay for around a tenner too, if you look at the right time. The legs come right off, so we can fold it down and tuck it out of sight, when not needed. The top was a little scratched and we didn’t love the green colour. So we decided to send it a little upmarket, with its own blue felt top which has the added advantage of stopping the board games from sliding all over the place. You can see in the photos above, that we are part way through our little renovation/ upcycling job. The felt cost under £3 from my local fabric shop and we already had the all purpose glue at home, from other craft projects.

My other half announced that some bean bag cushions would mean we could all sit comfortably, at the right height. You could easily pay £15-£25 each for these in the shops and I have an abundance of leftover material from other projects. So I picked out some that matched our lounge curtains, some heavyweight corduroy that I picked up in a charity shop for a song and another piece leftover from some bedroom curtains. I purchased 6 zips, at a cost of 64p each and 2 bags of beans at £6.50 each. Perhaps I will do a tutorial soon, but for now here is a picture of 2 of the cushions I have made. They take a couple of hours each, but the savings are evident.

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And lo, we are the proud owners of a custom games set-up, all for the princely sum of £20. Can’t be bad eh?

Things that have gone- 16

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We recently re-configured the storage in our garage, so it was a good chance to go through a whole bunch more stuff. I was able to turn out a variety of items that we haven’t used in the 2 1/2 years since we moved in.

  1. 20 mixed cardboard boxes for moving (Since we don’t plan on ever moving again and we’ve redecorated most of the house now, there will be no further need to keep boxing our stuff up. We don’t have the room to store all of these boxes anymore and decided there are other priorities for storage. Also, if we did keep them; we’d have to pay out to board more of our loft which seems crazy for some boxes! They’ll only deteriorate up there, so it was the best decision to let someone who needs them, take them).
  2. Bundle of car care stuff (this wasn’t even ours, someone had left it in the shed in our last place and I took it because it seemed wasteful to leave it or chuck it. That daft ‘just incase’ scenario again. Thankfully I was able to give it all to a family member who would use it).
  3. 3 metal poles (Used to hold up the storage we removed from our garage. Freecycled on to a gardener who wanted to use them to prop up their plants – perfect).
  4. A cake tin (Purchased as a recipe specified it was needed, but it never worked as well because it was too large. Decided to stick to standard tins and freecycled this on to someone who could use it).
  5. Bunch of rubbish (Took a large box of broken carpet gripper rods, odds and ends of carpet that were too small to use, empty paint cans and a broken drill to the tip).

That’s actually quite a lot more stuff gone when you look at it! I think I’ll be able to let go of some more, once we’ve organised our new space a bit. Stay tuned minimisers!

Lush Haul – Zero Waste Toiletries

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I visited Lush yesterday to stock up on toiletries, in advance of my holiday in a few weeks. Lush is great, as you can buy most toiletries packaging free. Above you can see (anti-clockwise from the giant henna block in the bottom left); Caca Marron Henna Hair Dye Block, Handy Gurugu Handcream, The Sunblock, Each Peach (and Two’s a Pair) Massage Bar and Coalface Solid Bar Soap (just about visible on the black bag).

I love their henna, I never wanted to dye my hair but I am slowly going grey (the curse of having dark hair) and in my mid-thirties, it’s got to the point where I really don’t like it being so visible. These henna bars are a little bit of effort, but I love that they are all natural. They are well worth the effort and really do make your greys sparkle brighter, as they take the colour slightly differently and look like highlights.

The hand cream comes in a little black pot, but these are made from 100% recycled plastic. Lush has a closed loop system and you take your pots back to store for recycling. They take them back to the manufacturer and round and round they go! The plastic manufacturer is also down here in Poole, right next to the factories that make the lovely Lush products. I tried their solid hand cream, but it wasn’t rich enough for me and far, far too greasy.

I don’t fully understand why they wrap the sunblock in plastic, but currently they do. I suspect it’s because it’s prone to melting – I had this experience once. But I’d still rather buy it sans-packaging and put it into a little tin for travel, like I do with their solid shampoos and conditioners. (EDIT: I wrote to Lush and they tell me that their sunblock is more prone to melting than other solid products. However, the good news is that the “plastic wrap is a cellulose plastic, which is a bio-plastic made from things like vegetable fats. It can be popped in with your compost and should begin to biodegrade within a week or so“). My husband swears this is the best sun-care product he has ever used. He has pale skin that burns very easily, but this offers fabulous protection. You simply shower it on in the morning and it’s SPF 30. You can also cut off a little bit and carry it with you in a tin, to top up. We also carry their ‘Powdered Sunshine’ which is fabulous and non-greasy, a little powder that you apply like talc. I even mix it with my face powder, to up my daily protection.

The massage bars are great for travel and completely sans-packaging. You just rub them over your skin to moisturise and it’s as simple as that. Coal-face is a godsend for my oily skin and it doubles as an exfoliator, as it contains little pieces of coal to gently scrub. I love it more than any face wash I’ve ever tried. Combine these items with our solid shampoo and conditioners bars and we’re set to go! We can’t imagine ever going back to plastic-wrapped, unethical toiletries.

All in all, I love supporting a local retailer, employing (mostly) local people (more on that perhaps another time) all these products are made 5 miles from my house – though ironically I have to travel a couple of miles further on just to buy them! I took all old paper bags and re-used them all. I had to prompt the staff member a couple of times, but they obliged. They sell some items by weight, and they always weigh them without the packaging. They can even cut products to your requirements, like with my piece of coalface soap.

Things that have gone this week- 14 & 15

My decluttering has slowed with good reason, so I will probably only post these updates periodically from now one. Still – 3 months of solid decluttering is pretty good going. I’d in-fact say I’ve completed 7 months of decluttering – since I started before Christmas! I just only started documenting the process 3 months ago.

In the past 2 weeks, I have away a room-sized piece of carpet that had been taken up and a room’s worth of carpet underlay. I sold a craft kit on eBay and I took a big bag of stuff to a charity shop. It contained a food serving tray that I was given when I set up home. I’d never used it and I had to wonder why I’d kept it all these years. It was the old ‘it might be useful’ approach!

We were given an UGLY soft toy monster by some relatives who stayed in May. I know I should’ve photographed it for fun. I smiled gratefully, accepted it and promptly put it in a bag to go to charity as soon as they left! Actually, my husband says we should keep these kinds of gifts; since people made them for us. I just bag ’em up and he never misses them, since we neither have need for them nor find them attractive to have around – I basically don’t see the problem.

I also gave away a pair of slippers a family members had asked us to keep here, for when they come to stay. The most ridiculous part was, they only ever came here once a year AND they never wore the slippers! I bet they won’t even know they are gone, on their next visit.

I also gave away several books I’d finished reading which is progress for me – as I always used to hold on to everything I’d ever read, pretty much. I gave away a large clip frame and mount, along with some more mounting board that I think I’d literally had for 20 years and never used! We paid to have our pictures professionally framed and they look great. Sure, there are ways to save money but learning to picture frame isn’t one for me. I was too scared of doing a crap job and paying someone else – meant the job actually got done and done well.

Do you have any decluttering stories to share? Do post in the comments 🙂