Shiny Happy…Paint

It’s been a big week here. Back to school time has arrived and with our oldest heading off to secondary school, it’s been emotional. (For me. She’s absolutely taking it in her stride!) A new school year has always sent me into a frenzy of organisational activity and it’s the perfect excuse to go out and buy stationery and supplies to get my life in order! I actually planned a ‘back to school’ shopping trip with my daughter to get all those essential items she would need for her new academic journey. We had a lovely day together and there may even have been a few items for Mum that had fallen off the shelf and into our trolley by the time we got to the checkout!

In last week’s post about our little Command Centre update, I hinted about my final solution for keeping that pesky paperwork under control. I had discovered that there were paper items coming into our home that even our lovely mail rack couldn’t accommodate on a long term basis (things like catalogues, magazines and the children’s artistic creations). So, in an effort to control all those final piles of paper which were the bane of my kitchen counters, I decided they needed a home of their own.

I always admire colourful magazine files like these Laura Ashley ones but they are often pricey for what they are – especially if you need more than one. When I was last at IKEA, I bought a set of these Flyt magazine files.

Cheap and (soon to be) cheerful

Cheap and (soon to be) cheerful

They are plain but cheap and I’ve used previous versions of them many times to house my ever expanding selection of Homes magazines. When I made the purchase, I had in mind that I would cover or decorate them in some way to make them more interesting and it’s only taken me around a year to get to it! (That’s pretty good by my track record!!)

Initially, I planned to cover the files in paper but I wasn’t sure how I would get a clean finish with the curve of the top. I decided to break out my new craft paints and give them a try (the files are cheap enough that it wouldn’t have bothered me too much if I ruined them! Which was a distinct possibility!) I decided to measure out stripes and stick strips of masking tape to achieve the effect I was looking for.

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The paints I had were ‘Docrafts Artiste’ Baby Blue and Pearl Frosted Mint Acrylic Paints with the greener shade being a metallic finish. I hadn’t tried them out before and I loved the texture of them. The blue one was really smooth and covered so well while the green metallic one was thinner but dried nicely to give a bit of a shine.

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By the time I got to the last file of the three I wanted to paint, I was feeling more confident and decided to try a zig-zag finish. I didn’t measure anything for this one, just went with it and stuck the masking tape as evenly as I could without worrying too much about a wonky line here and there!

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I have to say, it took a fair while to stick the tape and then paint this one. I gave everything two coats of paint, letting each coat dry before applying the next so the process was not quick but the paint went on quickly so the taping and drying were the most time consuming parts. I also painted the files before assembling them so that they could lie flat which also meant letting one side completely dry before starting the other.

When it came to removing the tape, I had the best results when I removed it while the second coat of paint was still not quite dry. This way, I don’t think the tape had adhered to the card quite so strongly and it was less inclined to pull the card away.

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There were some imperfections because I didn’t always get to the tape while the paint was still wet (I was fitting this in around a dozen other things we had going on that weekend as usual!!)

All finished and fulfilling their magazine file destiny - yay!!

All finished and fulfilling their magazine file destiny – yay!!

You can see a couple of spots at the edges where the tape pulled at the card but I can live with it. (Just…..I think!) I have allocated one file for magazines, one for brochures and catalogues and one for the children’s art work (the bits that don’t make it onto the wall!) The files are sitting pretty in our kitchen now – our last line of defence in the war against paper clutter!

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I am so transfixed by the metallic paint, it’s so pretty! I’m already thinking of where to use it next!

Shiny happy....paint

Shiny happy….paint

So what do we think? Is anyone else about to break out the craft paint and masking tape? Anyone else dealing with Mummy emotions sending their kiddos off to or back to school? I’d love to hear about it. I’m relying on my old friends ‘tea’ and ‘biscuits’ to get me through the week!!

 

Command Centre Update

We have returned from the most fantastic holiday and are thinking thoughts of returning to school. Autumn seems to be almost upon us!! (Seriously, where is August? What happened to the sun?!) We had the most amazing time in New York and South Carolina (I will be sharing some of our experiences and tips for seeing New York with children at some point soon). Apart from all the incredible sightseeing, scenery and sunshine, we also indulged in a spot of shopping and I have been desperate to share with you a very small update which I’ve made to our Command Centre as a result!

We came across these darling Kate Spade file folders in a Papyrus store in New York and when I caught sight of the matching agenda file, I almost fell over myself getting these babies to the checkout! (I know, it’s tragic that while some people go gaga over shoes and clothes, stationery and bags are my kryptonite.)

 

Kate Spade File Folders add just the right amount of bling!

Kate Spade File Folders add just the right amount of bling!

I had been looking for just the right folders to put in our mail rack and when I saw these, I knew I had found just the ones. I love the fact that the gold polka dots add a little glitz while also keeping the overall look light and classic.

I made a slight change to the way things are filed. Previously, I had a ‘file’ and ‘action’ folder for each member of the family but it quickly became apparent that having all the ‘action’ items spread out in four different files was unneccesary and likely to cause things to get forgotten. I decided that one ‘action’ file for everyone made much more sense (since it’s always me that actually ‘actions’ things anyway!) Therefore, the spare top pocket was the perfect place to put everything to be actioned, while everything else could be split down by person (this has been an especially useful system when I’m asked ‘where’s my homework sheet/credit card statement/insurance certificate since I can simply look in the pocket for the person asking – or they can look in their own – and find it straight away.) I file all the paperwork away around once a month.

All the action items are now in one place

All the action items are now in one place

My new planner (which is a 2015 one but which starts on 1st September 2014), is the final touch I had been looking for to complete the Command Centre. I always intended to include a calendar in this space but our current one didn’t fit in with my vision for this area and so I wanted to wait and find the right one. I can now keep all of our appointment cards, paperwork, invitations etc. in one place and log them in the planner as they come in. (Each month has a week-to-view diary as well as a month planner at the start).

The final touch - a place to keep track of all of life's craziness!

The final touch – a place to keep track of all of life’s craziness!

To say that the Command Centre has made a difference to keeping our paper clutter at bay is a massive understatement. It really has changed the way our home looks. No more piles of paper on the kitchen counter, no more forgotten permission slips or dentist appointments. No more two day searches for a missing document (yes, that really happened!) I cannot tell you how much more organised we are because of it.  I have also recently made another small change to deal with the catalogues and brochures that cannot be accommodated within this system so things really have taken a leap in the right direction (but more on that next time!). Please check out my original Command Centre post here and the concept and reasons for its creation here.

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I’ll be back soon to share my final mail clutter solution. Until then, I hope everyone has enjoyed the summer and all your little ones are/will return to the new school year refreshed and ready to roll. Until next time…….xoxo

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Clearing the Clutter

Well, the summer holidays are finally upon us and after a frantic end to the school year, we were all very much in need of a break. I have deliberately not rushed this week’s post as I had decided that I didn’t want to put pressure on myself while the children are at home. Having said that, I squeezed in a little project which I really wanted to share as I am so in love with it!!

Following my daughter’s birthday recently, there was the inevitable influx of gifts which she was, of course, delighted to receive. This situation always leads to a build up of things without a home, which leads to extra stuff lying around, which leads to a Mummy meltdown mess. I am always astounded by just how quickly the mess can build up in our little lady’s room. She is like an excited whirlwind tearing through the place and while I am always in awe of her boundless energy, there is a downside to it which drives us all just a little bit mad!! (Her Dad is always especially overjoyed to come home from work and find that he can no longer tell which colour her carpet is!)

So, with all these extra goodies lying around, we found ourselves here…

Stuff without a home - argh!!

Stuff without a home – argh!!

All these bits and pieces with no permanent home make me break out in a cold sweat. Something had to be done, and it had to be done quickly! Ella had received the make-up caddy as a gift which was great for providing a home to some of her clutter but clearly, more storage was needed! (And yes, those drawers are pretty much permanently hanging open!)

Fortunately, when trying to decide what to do with all her precious belongings, I had a lightbulb moment. I was trying to think where I could safely house all the little bits and pieces when I remembered a small IKEA chest which Ella had rescued from her late Grandad’s shed. She is a girl after my own heart and never could resist cute storage. She spotted a very neglected and cobweb covered set of IKEA ‘Moppe’ drawers…

I've borrowed this image from here as I forgot to take a 'before' pic in my excitement to get on with it!

I’ve borrowed this image from here as I forgot to take a ‘before’ pic in my excitement to get on with it!

When I remembered that these drawers were now hiding in our own shed, I dug them out straight away as I knew they would be the perfect solution to our clutter problem.

I gave the whole unit two coats of pale blue paint (the same one I used here) and I was really amazed how much better they looked. However, I had bigger plans for this little chest. Since Ella is so fond of leaving her dressing table drawers hanging open, I thought I may as well make them pretty on the inside as well as the outside! I found a couple of pretty rolls of wrapping paper I had left over from wrapping her birthday presents and measured the inside of one of the drawers to make a template from a plain piece of paper.

Template done - now to make things pretty

Template done – now to make things pretty

I then drew around the template on top of folded sheets of wrapping paper to cut inserts to size for each of the six drawers. I brushed a very thin layer of glue (so thin, it wasn’t even visible) to stick the paper onto the inside of each inner drawer face.

Drawer inserts

Look at those happy little drawers now! Who knew they could look so cute? Who in the world would care if one of these babies was left hanging open?!

Pretty as a picture!

Pretty as a picture!

And, as a finishing flourish and to avoid any possible excuses about not knowing what goes where (I hope she’s listening!) I turned to my old friend Martha….

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And with a little help from some left over scraps of paper and my label machine…..every little piece of clutter found itself a home!

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Shall we have a little look at the finished product in its new home? I just love this transformation! My favourite thing about it is that it didn’t cost me a penny as I had all the materials already in my stash. Win, win, win!

So much better (just need to get around to painting the dressing table now!)

So much better (just need to get around to painting the dressing table now!)

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And do I care if these drawers are left open? Not really, but let’s not broadcast it eh?!

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So, what are your thoughts? Was it worth the extra effort to line the drawers? I am hoping and praying that my gorgeous girly enjoys looking at those pretty papers so much, she will be only to keen to hide her clutter away. I can hope, yes? Anyone else out there been finding more appealing ways to encourage their kids to hide their clutter? I would love to hear about it!

I am actually going to take a few weeks off blogging to focus on family time over the summer but please feel free to check back on some of my previous posts and remember, I always love to hear about your decorating dramas – email me at homeheartharmony@yahoo.com or catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter. ‘Til next time….xoxo!

Please note that all text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony and are not to be reproduced without the owner’s permission and the Home Heart Harmony name as well as a link back to the site.

 

 

And the winner is….

So, a little later than scheduled, I have finally finished going through all the likes, shares, retweets, comments and emails from last week’s post and we have a winner!! Now, as you know, this was my first give-away and as expected, there were some teething troubles! Apologies to anyone who was trying to share my Facebook post only to find that there was no option to do so! As a result of this small teething issue, I made the decision to include everyone who had ‘liked’ my post in the draw as well as those who were able to share it. Likewise, if comments were made on the Facebook post rather than the blog post, those were included in the draw as well. I went ‘old-school’ with the draw and put all the names in a hat bowl….

All the names went in...

All the names went in…

So, drum roll please…the winner is…..

And this one came out!!

And this one came out!!

Sam, please contact me via Facebook or email (homeheartharmony@yahoo.com) to claim your prize and let me know when you would like to take delivery of your personalised, pretty party jars!!

Meanwhile, it’s been an extremely busy week in our house and I’ve been working hard clearing out cupboards (and let’s face it) entire rooms as well as getting all emotional over my daughter’s last week at primary school. I’m also making plans for the changes we would like to make to our ‘den’ so I hope to share some of those with you very soon. In the meantime, I would like to send a great big ‘virtual’ pat on the back to all those Mums and Dads who have clung on by their finger nails and either already made it or are about to make it to the end of another school year!! Well done for hanging in there friends! We have two more days of school to get through here before we all (well, me and the children) collapse in a big heap.

Do remember to keep sending me your ‘before and after’ pics as well as any project news you would like to share, I always love hearing about them. You can contact me via email (homeheartharmony@yahoo.com), Facebook, Twitter and follow me on Pinterest. I am so grateful to everyone who took the time to enter the giveaway. Thanks  so much for reading….xoxo

A Pretty Pyjama Party and a GIVEAWAY

Oh my goodness this is a busy old time of year! The end of the school year always makes me feel equal parts sad, stressed and excited. In amongst all the craziness of school productions, end of year parties, sports days, transition days and holiday preparations, we also have three family birthdays within a week and a half. So, there’s a fair few late nights and excitement on top of everything else. This week is our gorgeous girl’s birthday. She has decided to have a sleepover with her friends and has come up with plenty of ideas for how she wants the living room to look and how she would like the evening to run.

One of my jobs this week has been to come up with a little something for her to give her friends which says ‘thank you for coming.’ We talked about the fact that she didn’t want a typical party bag but something a bit more grown up. Between us we cooked up the idea of filling pretty jars with sweets and making a pretty label to tie around them so that they would have something which was a little treat but that was also pretty and could be put to use rather than just thrown away. Very excitingly, I have decided to sell the labels through my Facebook page AND will be launching my first ever GIVEAWAY! More on that later.

I got these jars at B&M. I’m not sure how widely spread B&M stores are but our local one has arrived fairly recently and I find that there are some serious bargains and lovely bits if you keep your nose to the ground. I decided to get two of each colour.

So cute - and a bargain too!

So cute – and a bargain too!

I also bought some raffia to tie the labels around the top in bright pink and turquoise. I just love pink and blue together, the combination is so pretty.

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The raffia ribbon was from Marks and Spencer in their gift wrap department. The jars were really simple. I chose to fill them with treat sized packs of ‘love hearts’ as I thought it would be both hygienic and pretty – win, win! The labels were slightly more labour intensive since I needed to create a template and then put everything together but we were so pleased with how they turned out.

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We had already decided that the girls would sleep in the living room for the night so that they could have a movie night with popcorn before they went off to sleep (yes, I know, it was wishful thinking that they would actually sleep!) Ella was very keen to decorate the room and make it pretty so we hung bunting and fairy lights using command hooks.

Bunting, lanterns and fairy lights made it a pretty party

Bunting, paper lanterns and fairy lights made it a pretty party

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We put the little party gifts on the table for the guests of honour.

Pretty party favours

Pretty party favours

Ella and I had such a great time making all the preparations. It was so lovely to see her getting all excited about the little details. I am so aware that I need to treasure these moments with her while she still wants me around! And, as I post this, there is a group of giggling girls clearly very much enjoying the fruits of our labour.

So, on to the exciting business of my first giveaway. The lucky winner will receive up to 20 ‘party jars’ with personalised labels made using names they provide and colours to tie in with their party theme. The jars can be made for parties between 31st August 2014 and 31st August 2015 but two weeks notice must be provided. In order to enter the giveaway, you will need to do three things:

1) Comment on this post with one word which you think describes the party jars (see the comments section below or to the right depending on what time of device you are using. You may need to click on the title of this post above first.)

2) Head over to the Home Heart Harmony Facebook page and give it a ‘like’

3) Share the Facebook post about this giveaway. (If you are not a Facebook user, simply do step one, then send an email to homeheartharmony@yahoo.com with the subject ‘Non-Facebook giveaway’).

The winner will be announced at 10pm on Saturday 19th July and is open to UK residents only (sorry to my over-seas friends, I will try to find a way to include you in my next giveaway.)

That’s it. Good luck! As I mentioned, I will also be selling the jar labels personalised to your party with names and colour theme. Head over to my Facebook page for prices and further information.

So, has anyone else been planning a birthday bash amongst all the other craziness this time of year brings with it? Anyone currently listening to the increasingly hysterical laughter of six 11 year old girls and wondering if they will ever go to sleep? I’d love to hear about it! Until next time….xoxo

 

Please note that all text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony and are not to be reproduced without the owner’s permission and the Home Heart Harmony name as well as a link back to the site.

 

 

Time for each other

You will have to forgive me for getting uncharacteristically mushy today. I have talked previously here and here about ways in which our family attempts to find ways to reduce the time taken by every day tasks in order to spend more quality time together and I also covered some of the things we love to do together as a family when the kiddo’s are home for the holidays. However, one of the things I always feel we should make more time for is each other…..as a couple.

This week my hubbie and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. We got married young for a variety of reasons, the main one of which for me was that I knew, even as young as I was that I had found someone I couldn’t risk losing. (Insert here a list of all of my man’s wonderful qualities which include the ability to make me laugh even when I’m trying very hard to be angry, a beautiful, kind heart and generous, caring spirit and an uncanny ability to pluck from the air a limitless number of strange and wonderful topics of conversation when he can see he’s about to lose a ‘debate’). We were both on the cusp of big life decisions when we met which would have taken us in separate directions and I knew that leaving him behind would be a decision I would regret for the rest of my life. He won’t thank me for getting overly gushing here (he’s certainly squirming already) so I’ll leave it at that but suffice to say, it turns out I was right about him!

Every year around this time we try to take a weekend or at least an evening together without the children and it always makes me think that we should do it more often. Having time to talk and laugh about everything and anything without interruption is far too rare a thing in our lives these days and I always find myself wishfully thinking that we should make time for ‘us’ more frequently.

So, since this little blog is all about getting my life in order, I wanted to make that apply to us personally as well as to our home and the things around us. So, I have come up with a few things I am going to try to do, to prioritise ‘us.’

holding hands

PLAN AHEAD FOR TIME TOGETHER

Whenever I talk with friends about arranging a night out or a day together, I always suggest putting something in the diary well ahead of time. I do this because I know how busy our lives and the lives of those around us can be and trying to fit things in at the last minute rarely works out. My plan is to try implementing this tactic within our own relationship. Putting a date in the diary to spend time with each other seems like such a simple thing and yet we rarely do it. In fact, I can see how it would feel like I prioritise time with friends and family over time with each other. There definitely needs to be a better balance. Therefore, it will be my plan henceforth to prioritise at least one evening each week to be together and I will be planning well ahead of time to avoid disappointment!

Cake Topper

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KEEP OUR LITTLE TRADITIONS GOING, EVEN WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE TOO MUCH OF AN EFFORT

Over the years, we have developed what I can only describe as ‘traditions’ which we have always done. Things like a cup of tea in bed in the morning, a kiss and ‘I love you’ before either of us leaves the house, dinner at our favourite restaurant on our anniversary. These are small things but they are still important. I feel like it’s worth the effort to make the effort (if that makes sense?!)

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BE NICE TO EACH OTHER

This one sounds so obvious and yet, it can be so easy to slip into the habit of not appreciating one another. For example, being polite to one another and ‘using our manners’ can really make such a difference to the way a conversation goes but sometimes they are so easily forgotten when you live with someone. I remind my children constantly about these things but I don’t always practise what I preach when it comes to my own exchanges. I will be setting a better example from now on.

Romantic-dinner

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EAT AT THE TABLE…..AND TURN OFF THE TV

This is one that we really try hard to observe but just recently we’ve been a little bit lazy about turning off the TV. Having the TV on makes eating dinner together a totally different experience. If it’s off, we always find ourselves talking about what we’ve been up to, planning the coming days together, discussing the children’s highs and lows. Sometimes this is the only time during the whole day that we actually stop and stay still in the same place at the same time. With the TV on, we just sit side by side in silence. An opportunity to catch up with each other has been wasted. Why would we want to do that? So, off with the TV it is.

Be-Present

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BE PRESENT

I remember a few years ago when the world started going mobile crazy, noticing a difference in the way people around me behaved when it came to technology. To start with, people would discreetly check their phone for text messages whilst we were mid-conversation. Then, they were replying to those messages. Then, sitting on my sofa when we were having coffee scrolling through their Facebook news feed as we chatted. I can even think of occasions when people have drifted away from the thread of a discussion without even realising they were doing it leaving me to wait for them to be ‘back in the room.’ I used to find all of those things rude and annoying (to say the least!)

However, sad though it surely is, it seems like now it’s completely accepted for all of those things to happen. People openly scroll through the news or check their emails while in the middle of a conversation with another person and I have to confess, I have slowly but surely joined them. The worst thing of all is that I find myself doing it with my own family! My husband and children have all had to endure my ‘phone-checking’ and ‘iPad scrolling’ while they wait (sometimes) patiently for me to focus back on them. In my defence, I am always apologetic when I realise this has happened but what is it I think I am going to find on my phone or iPad that could possibly be more important than whatever they have to tell me?! So, you read it here, I am going to STOP.

So, does anyone feel like joining me in making a little bit of an effort here and there to feel the looove?! Is anyone out there celebrating an anniversary and being more mindful about their relationship? I would love to hear about it. Til next week…..xoxo

Grafting in the Garden

I have been bursting ALL week to tell you what we got up to last weekend. Those who follow me on Facebook will have seen a sneak peek. When I wrote about our Garden Gathering a couple of weeks ago, the pictures took my hubby by surprise and I think they made us both realise we needed to spend some time out there to tidy things up. Although I had done my best to ‘prettify’ and make things look their best, there was no longer any hiding from the fact that the patio was in a bad way, as were our table and chairs.

I think the patio had developed some kind of illness because it had these white spots ALL OVER it!

Definitely coming down with something

Definitely coming down with something

 

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Not looking good

I don’t know what caused them and I was skeptical that they could be removed but we decided to give it a go and see if we could clean it. Enter the Karcher power washer!

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The Karcher is quite a beast. We borrowed this one from my parents but if I didn’t have access to it, I may consider making the investment as it is so amazing. It hooks up to the mains electric and a hose connection is required to feed the water into the machine. The power of the spray is very impressive and I was amazed how easily it ripped through the dirt.

Here you can clearly see the clean area and that still needing attention. Everyone had a turn, even the dog was very excited to get involved!

Here you can clearly see the clean area and that still needing attention. Everyone had a turn, even the dog was very excited to get involved!

It took 3-4 hours to clean our entire patio and the result was incredible. It looks like brand new paving!

It looks brand new!

It looks brand new!

We were so pleased with the results. It’s amazing what a difference a few hours can make. Shall we have a quick patio cleaning before and after?

Patio 1Amazing huh?! While all the patio jet-washing was going on, I was busy elsewhere trying to breathe life into our tired old outdoor dining set. The set belonged to my parents and we took it on when they decided to buy new. We had given the table a coat of paint a couple of years ago but the chairs were still surviving on their original stain treatment which they received goodness knows how many years ago – at least 3 or 4.

As you can see, action was needed

As you can see, action was needed

Now, let me be honest with you. In my (extensive) experience of reading and watching home improvement magazines, blogs and TV shows, I have heard expressions used such as ‘gave the chairs a quick coat of paint’ or ‘a quick sand down and a fresh coat of paint’ or even ‘one quick whip around with a paint brush.’ These people are telling you lies! There was nothing quick about this task. Admittedly, I am not massively experienced in the art of painting but I have done a fair amount in my time and I’m telling you, these chairs drained my spirit like nothing else! The process was DULL! They took HOURS and HOURS to paint and every time I looked at them from a new angle there were MORE surfaces I realised I had missed. After the first two, I felt like I was losing the will to go on. The table was a doddle in comparison. Here is a before and after of one of the chairs.

Garden chair

We did discover something which helped speed the process. (Top tip alert!) After sanding the first chair, I noticed how the Karcher was stripping the patio of dirt and wondered if it would do the same to the paint on the chairs. I took the jet cleaner to one of the chairs and lo and behold….

The karcher stripped virtually all the old paint off the chairs making the sanding process SOOOOO much easier

The karcher stripped virtually all the old paint off the chairs making the sanding process SOOOOO much easier

Thank goodness, by the time I had almost finished painting the first couple of chairs, the hubster had finished his patio cleaning duties and was on hand to help me out. He is in the building trade and started out many moons ago by working on site learning his craft and (thank the lord!) did a fair amount of painting and decorating while he was at it. Consequently, his painting technique (unlike my own) is swift and accurate and by the time I finished my third chair, he had painted the other three – HALLELUJAH!! We then took one half of the table each and before we knew it, we had what looked like a whole new dining set.

Oh so worth all the painting trauma!

Oh so worth all the painting trauma!

How much better does it look?! The paint we used is Dulux Weathershield Green Glades. We used this when we painted the playhouse around 3 years ago and thought it would be nice if everything matched.

Dulux Weathershield Exterior Satin in Green Glades

Dulux Weathershield Exterior Satin in Green Glade

While we were busy and the weather was good, I got rid of our old dying shrubs and replanted our pots with bedding plants which I am sure will be bursting with colour before long. I also put some in the window boxes on the playhouse and added some bunting because, well, who doesn’t love bunting?! I will be sure to share some pictures once everything comes into flower. Here’s how they look now, already so much better. (The top left picture is the sad ‘before’ shot).

Please excuse Bo's photo-bombing

Please excuse Bo’s photo-bombing

Only problem now is, the playhouse needs another ‘quick coat of paint’ to match in with everything else! Any offers?! All in all, I am over the moon with how much better everything looks outside now. Let’s take a few moments to appreciate all the hard work from every angle shall we?

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The roses are from the garden – things grow there! It’s a miracle!

 

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Ok, ok, I’m done now! How about you? Has anyone else out there been busy breathing new life into old furniture? I would love to hear about it. It’s a great feeling.

Now that I’ve spent an entire sunny weekend working in the garden, I think we can probably expect it to rain for the rest of the summer! (Please let that not be true! And don’t blame me if it is?!) ‘Til next time….xoxo

Prepare to be Prepared

We had a lovely family day out for Father’s Day this weekend with my husband, Dad and Grandad all present and correct. It was a beautiful warm weekend and we drove off into the countryside with dogs and picnics onboard to celebrate at a local landmark.

When we arrived, we unloaded the cars, set up our picnic area with rugs, camping chairs and hampers and it occurred to me that it really was rather warm, and there was no shade to be found (at least not within easy walking distance for the grandparents). At that moment, the realisation dawned that I had left the sun lotion at home. None of us had remembered to pack sunscreen and I have to confess, it was very much on my mind for the rest of the day that the children might get burned. Fortunately, they were both wearing t-shirts which covered their shoulders, one of them had a hat on and there was a fair amount of cloud blowing through which gave us breaks in the brightest of the sunshine. As it turned out, the only person to get burned was me (thank goodness) – the joys of being an English rose!

I would have felt like a terrible Mother if the children had come home with sunburn and the incident did make me think that I should keep some sunscreen in the car so that I never get caught out like that again. Having had a couple of other items missing from my arsenal on Sunday, I decided to put together an emergency in-car ‘prepared for anything kit.’

Admittedly, this is not rocket-science. I just grabbed a cosmetic bag I already had and filled it with the following things:

Prepared for every eventuality

Prepared for every eventuality

  • Sunscreen (We always use factor 50 so we don’t have to give any thought to sunburn and can just enjoy our time in the sunshine.)
  • Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Insect repellent
  • Paracetamol (for the adults and child paracetamol for the kids)
  • Small torch
  • Pen
  • Hand lotion
  • Plasters
  • Manicure set
  • Hairbands
  • Compact mirror
  • Antiseptic cream

Ideally, I would have a bottle of water in there but I’ve read that plastic bottles of water and hot cars are not a good idea so I will just have to remember to bring drinks. The cosmetic bag tucks nicely into the glovebox alongside the car manual and now, it’s just a matter of refilling when something runs out. It is actually quite a comfort to someone as forgetful as me to know that whenever we head off for a day out, I can just grab this kit, pop it in our bag and I will know I have everything we need to help us enjoy a smooth, stress-free day.

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While I was at it, I cleared out and cleaned the inside of the car which DESPERATELY needed to be done. Why is it that my car seems to fall so quickly into a state of filth and chaos?! Is it just me?Car kit

How about you? Do you think a little kit like this in your car would save you some headaches (literal and metaphorical) on your next family day out? Is there anything you always keep in your car to save you in a moment of forgetfulness? I would love to hear about it.

I hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful and happy Father’s Day both with those Dads who are still with us and remembering fondly those that aren’t.

Thanks so much for reading. It’s been a big week for my little blog, lots of ‘firsts’ and happy dancing watching viewer numbers grow. I am so grateful to each and every person that takes a moment from their week to catch up with Home Heart Harmony…xoxo

A Garden Gathering

We had a gorgeous summer day here yesterday, it is always so lovely to see the sunshine and I find it’s a real mood-changer for me. To look out of the window in the morning and see the start of a beautiful day always sets me off on the right foot.

We had friends over last night and when we saw the forecast for the weekend we decided to take things outside and have a barbecue. We are not big on gardening, mostly because when the weather is good enough to spend time in the garden, we just want to make the most of it and not use those valuable hours of sunshine working on the garden only to find that by the time we’ve finished, it’s raining again!

However, I would love to think that we could make more of our outside space so I’m hoping we get enough good weather to be able to make some of the changes I would like whilst also getting to enjoy the summer in the garden (you can hope right?)

Last night, I set up the table and dragged some of our furniture outside so that we could sit and soak up every last minute of a rare, warm summer’s evening.

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It’s not often we get a chance to sit outside in the evening and I have to confess, we had to move things back inside at about 11.00 as it was too cold to stay put.

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I put a couple of blankets on the chairs so we could use them if it got chilly – and we did. It was a really lovely evening though, we had a gorgeous meal cooked by hubby on the bbq and then chatted by candlelight whilst relaxing and having a few glasses of wine in the comfy seats. We have never spent an evening in the garden like that in the (almost) 10 years we’ve lived here and it was definitely something I would like to do more.

I’ve been looking on the internet for summer entertaining inspiration and there is so much to love. In my dreams, we would be able to re-create some of the amazing outdoor spaces I encountered…

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Our garden is south-facing and whilst we already have an awning which we can pull out over the table during the day, it doesn’t really give us enough shade as it’s on the wrong angle so it would be great to create a way to add some more shade. I would love a covered outdoor area that we could use in all weathers. This one looks so pretty with the bunting – bunting is definitely something I would like to use to pretty things up outside.

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I also love the idea of adding some pretty lighting. I meant to do this last night with some fairy lights around our tree but I forgot to set it all up until it was too late. That’s one I’ll definitely be trying soon though, it looks so simple and yet incredibly effective.

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Flowers and colour seem to be the way to go when it comes to taking things that extra mile in the ‘pretty’ stakes. There are so many gorgeous pictures out there of beautiful outdoor dining spaces. I LOVE the pretty lights, colourful baskets and what appears to be the use of a bed spread as a table-cloth on this one! It makes my effort look extremely shabby!!

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The use of lots of different flowers and simple jars, bottles and doilies on this table are just so charming. I love it!

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There are some great ideas for outdoor lighting and entertaining in general on this website. Worth a look if you are planning an outdoor gathering.

So, now that all this inspiration has been gathered, I am planning big changes in the garden. Fingers crossed we get enough dry weather to make them happen. How about you? Is anyone spending this weekend working on their outside spaces? I would love to hear about them! Have a great weekend and if you have some, enjoy the sunshine!!….xoxo

 

 

A Surprise Switcheroo

This has to have been one of the longest weeks of my life! My 10 year old daughter has been away on her first ever school camp. They were not allowed to take anything with a telephone network or Wi-Fi connection so there has been no communication whatsoever, except a postcard which made me sob when I received it yesterday. I miss her so much, I could just melt into a sizzling pile of clothes like the witch in the Wizard of Oz.

So, what to do to keep myself from going crazy? A little bedroom surprise of course! We made some changes to our little lady’s room back at Christmas time and I am pleased to report that while the room is not always clean and tidy, (show me a 10 year old whose room is) it is most definitely, much, much better than it was before. Having pared her things down and allocated a place for everything has made it so much easier for her to keep the mess under control.

However, it took us so long to sort everything out that I have to confess, we all ran out of steam a little bit and the other end of the room was never properly finished off. In fact, I didn’t even share a picture of that part of the room as I knew there was still work to be done.

Here is what we were starting with

Here is what we were starting with

The other slight problem we had was that the new desk we had bought to match the shelving over the bed was very slightly too long to fit in the spot I had hoped would be its home. This was either a result of a) my sloppy measuring or b) IKEA’s having made ALL their ‘Hemnes’ desks with the wrong dimensions. Now, I’m not one to point the finger so I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusion as to what went wrong. (O.k, there is a very, very slight chance the error was mine!)

The desk was supposed to fit this space perfectly but 'somebody' messed up the measurements!

The desk was supposed to fit this space perfectly but ‘somebody’ messed up the measurements!

To cut a (not very) long story (not very) short, we had a situation where the internal drawer in the wardrobe was difficult to open. It did open, but it was a struggle and I was concerned that we were either going to finish up damaging the desk or the wardrobe (or both!) and so it was clear things were going to need to be changed.

The corner of the desk pushed into the wardrobe door when the internal drawer was open

The corner of the desk pushed into the wardrobe door when the internal drawer was open

Fortunately, at the other end of the room, we had a chest of drawers which weren’t really needed. We had bought them for our first nursery in our last house and had a wardrobe to match but when we moved to our current home, there were fitted wardrobes and we didn’t really need the freestanding units any more. We had kept them in this room just to add extra storage but now we’ve streamlined our belongings, we didn’t really need them. Our daughter had been keen to get rid of the chest of drawers at Christmas but almost 6 months down the line, they were still sitting there empty! That’s how we roll around here! Until this week.

Now the desk has a less cramped new home

Now the desk has a less cramped new home

This week has given us the perfect opportunity to make the most of the evenings to get things sorted in here without having to worry about keeping madam awake. So, out went the chest of drawers making space to move the too-big desk into its new home on the other side of the room. Homework and craft projects can now take place here on the desk which is big enough to cope with both. We removed one of the shelves from the wall and hung a picture which we had painted by a very clever man on the side of the road on holiday a few years ago.

The dressing table has now switched over to the wall next to the wardrobe allowing room for the mirror in that corner as well (slightly better than its previous home leaning against the curtains!) It all makes much more sense now with all the ‘dressing’ activities confined to one area.

The dressing table makes more sense over here

The dressing table makes more sense over here

The dressing table still needs re-painting but that will be so much easier now that it’s not hemmed into a corner. It’s on my list!

The mirror now fits perfectly in this space too

The mirror now fits perfectly in this space too

And as a finishing touch, I finally got around to hanging the string lights above the bed because, what (not so) little girl wouldn’t want pretty lights above their bed right? (Is it acceptable for adults to have lights over their bed? I think I want some too!)

Twinkle twinkle little.....light

Twinkle twinkle little…..light

I can’t WAIT to see her reaction, I am quietly confident she will love it as she’s been asking me on an almost-daily basis since Christmas when we are going to finish her room! Has anyone else ever sneakily updated their kids rooms while they were away? I would love to hear about it. I remember my family doing it for me when I was a teenager and it was such a fab surprise to come home to. What do you think? Will she be pleased? Fingers crossed eh?! xoxo