Archive for the ‘house and home’ Category

Car Boot Sale!

In house and home, just for fun, kids on June 30, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Despite the weather, we had a really great morning at a local car boot sale! It was just a small, simple one in the car park of our local community centre, but we bagged some great bargains, including this hat and coat for my little Angel:

They’re pure wool, absolutely gorgeous! And the best thing was that they were only 20p, for the set! Can you believe that?

I also found some bargain books: The Cat in the Hat (and also his return), and Sarah Waters’ Night watch in hardback for me, which were only 10p each. We went with a pocketful of change and only spend about £3 in all, though we all came back happy!

When the weather is warmer, we sometimes go to the major car boot sales out in the country, which can take hours to walk around! These sales are such a good place for bargain buys: we’ve built up a huge collection of Disney videos this way as they’re usually around 50p each (whereas new ones are upwards of £10 in the shops), and always look out for mirrors, beautiful vases, fittings and other household stuff that we can buy for next to nothing.

If you ever fancy trying a car boot sale yourself, here’s a few tips to get the most out of it:

  • Wear old shoes and trousers: car boot sales can be very muddy!
  • Have lots of loose change. When things cost 10p, you don’t want to ask for change from a £20 note! Also, it’s easier to barter when you have the right money!
  • Barter for everything! There are no fixed prices at car boot sales, and sellers almost always tell you a price higher than they will accept (even if it is already cheap!)
  • Take carrier bags, as sellers often run out!
  • Go very early if you want to find the best sales. Later in the day, such treasures will have already been snapped up!
  • Go quite late if you are looking for cheap bargains: as sellers are packing up, they are much more likely to sell you that beautiful green glass vase for 20p when their earlier asking price was £2!
  • Similarly, going on a day when the weather’s bad will help you bag the bargains, as sellers just want to get rid of their stuff and go home!

Car boot sales are great for buying kids toys too. Last year, money was a bit short so we went to the sales just before the kids birthdays and found loads of great stuff they wanted which we otherwise couldn’t afford. Clothes in every shape, size and design are found in plenty, so if you don’t mind laundering second-hand clothes, there are designer bargains galore.

If you want to find listings of car boot sales in your ares, try CarBootCalendar.com which features all major UK car boot sales, flea markets and antiques fairs. Friday Ads also have regular listings of such sales and you can narrow your search by postcode.

An alternative, If you prefer to keep your boots clean, is to visit visit ibootsale from the comfort of your own home! You can even list items for free if there are things lying about at home that you want to get rid of.

Do let me know if you’re a lover of car boot sales too by leaving your comments below. And if you’re a CBS virgin, why not go out and visit one with the kids? It’s a very cheap day out!


I wish he’d thought of that in the first place!

In house and home, keeping him happy on June 23, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I’d almost finished decorating the bathroom. Three weeks, it has taken me to get most things done, since I only had an hour or two at a time, when Little Angel wasn’t around to put hand prints all over my newly painted walls. All that was left was putting up the waterproof paper on the back wall.

Then Hubby Dearest had a brainwave: “I think we should move the sink and the radiator around.” Yes, it was a good idea: the sink was underneath the window, so we couldn’t have a mirror on place for shaving/make-up and the like. Great, fair enough. Except this means that I have to redo most of the painting again, once the walls have been re plastered!!

And he did it, which surprised me immensely since we’re also creating a “patio” on the back garden, and I didn’t think he could manage two major household projects at once! So now I’m almost back to where I started, and need to do all the painting again. At least the layout looks miles better than it did! What’s more, Hubby has finally become interested in the finished look: he’s chosen some bathroom cabinets and fittings for when it’s all complete, and has even bought the floor covering I had my eye on!

Thanks, darling! I do love you, you know 🙂

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Can your household become 90% greener?

In house and home, issues, observations on June 22, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Over at Simple Living, Miranda, Sharon and other participants have set themselves a very honourable task: to cut their personal carbon emissions by 90% of that of the average American: the approximate amount people in the rich world need to reduce by in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Anyone can join in this task by linking to the Simple Living blog or commenting on their posts. Their blog features loads of great energy saving tips which not only help save the environment but will also drastically cut down on household and utility bills too! What a great idea!

The goal is to cut down to 90% of the average American’s emissions over the course of a year (or your country’s average emissions if you don’t live in the US). What with our family’s reduction on amenities and such lately, I do believe that we’re already below the UK average, though I’ll certainly be reading through Simple Living’s advice to see what else we can do to reduce even more. It would certainly be a difficult feat for us to reduce by 90%, but as the video shows, there are a great many ways we can help protect the environment simply by making different choices about the way we live our lives.

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Living room or lounge: what’s yours?

In house and home, kids on June 21, 2007 at 12:06 pm

I have to ask this, as it’s starting to become something of an issue in our house: does your home have a “living room” (a communal area complete with a scattering of toys and kiddie stuff) or a “lounge” (mum and dad only; kids are virtually banned; the room is tidy).

We don’t have much of a choice here at home as our house has only two bedrooms: a smaller one for the boys (my son and stepson) where they keep their computer games, toys, books and all, then the “master bedroom” (I hesitate to call it such!), where Hubby Dearest and I sleep, keep our stuff, and also share with Little Angel and my step-daughter. There is no space in either room for Little Angels huge chest full of toys, her amazing collection of beloved cuddly things, her rocking horse or anything else.

This all lives in our “living room” instead.

I don’t mind this too much while Little angel is young, but Hubby dearest really hates this setup. He wants the room where our sofa lives to become the “lounge”: no kids, no toys. A place where we can relax at the end of the day and not have to thoroughly tidy up beforehand! He complains that guests must think we have a messy house because of the toys in there. I assure him that people understand: after all, we have children, and children play!

Eventually, we both agree that the bathroom will migrate to the lower portion of our bedroom, and the old one will become the (perhaps a little small) girls room. And there will live the toys, the cuddlys and all their other stuff. But for this, we have to wait: we’re still renting from the council, and until we either buy this house or persuade them to do the work for us, we have to live in this scenario.

I would really like to know how you other mums and dads organise your living space: do you have toys in the living room, or are they relegated to the bedroom? Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a playroom, where the kids can play without fear of making a mess? Please leave your comments below. Any suggestions for creating a temporary harmony amidst these toys would be much appreciated!

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Dull women have immaculate homes…

In house and home, just for fun on June 9, 2007 at 6:32 pm

Or so I like to believe! Phyllis Diller also said that “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”

So very true!

There are loads of great quotes about housework over at Quote Garden. I’m off to read some more to help me cheep up before I tackle the mess of my bathroom…

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Use pot pourri bags to make your sofa smell sweet

In freebies, house and home on June 4, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Over the weekend, I made use of some old muslin squares (previously used when burping little Angel!) by sewing together and filling with pot pourri. I then tied them with some pretty ribbon left over from Christmas wrapping. They cost me next to nothing to make; in fact I’m quite proud of my handiwork (especially as I sewed them by hand!).

One trick I’ve learnt is to hide one under the seat cushions on the sofa; whenever anyone sits down, a waft of the lovely scented pot pourri is released to help make your lounge smell sweet! I also hung some in the wardrobes so our clothes smell nice too.

Why not give it a try yourself if you have any unused fabric lying around the house?

It had to be done…

In house and home on June 2, 2007 at 12:36 pm

It had to be done…
Originally uploaded by

After all that indecision, i decided that I’d at least strip the bathroom walls. Much hard work and shredded fingers! Now the preparation has been done, the actual decoration shouldn’t be too bad. But as you probably know already, wherever there are children around, even the simplest of jobs can easily become a nightmare!

Bathroom opinions please!

In house and home on June 1, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Hubby dearest has been trying for months to put me off redecorating the bathroom, saying that it won’t be long before the Council come to modernise it, along with our falling-down kitchen (we rent from our local council at the moment). This was supposed to happen in July/August this year. We even delayed booking our holidays to ensure we’d be home to choose the new decor they’d install for us.

But now we’ve discovered it’s going to be next year when they finally get around to our house. Which makes me rather frustrated, since almost 80% of the other houses on our street have had their renovations completed in full: new driveways, brand new kitchen and bathroom (including re plastering and decoration); electrical rewires; new gas boiler; new windows and doors.

We’ve just had the doors and windows installed. I have no idea how long we’ll have to wait for the rest.

Anyway, enough of my rants. I would like your opinions on something…

I’ve always thought that a home’s bathroom is one of the most important rooms to be well decorated, be clean and tidy, and generally nice. Hubby dearest completely disagrees. He truly doesn’t care what the bathroom looks like, so long as there’s hot water for a shower and clean towels somewhere.

What do you think?

I ask this because I simply cannot wait another year or so for the council to redecorate our bathroom. I HATE IT! The grubby ancient wallpaper is stuck on in patches, three layers thick in places, and completely comes away from the wall where the damp from the leaking toilet set in. There’s no storage, the linoleum is torn and scratched… It won’t cost much to get it looking better, just a little time and elbow grease; a lick of paint and some shelves. Hopefully some new flooring too. But then, I’d have to decide between redecorating the bathroom or buying a new wardrobe to match the furniture in our bedroom. At least for a few months while we save up again.

So, if you have any ideas for me I’d really appreciate it!

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Little green fingers

In house and home, kids, me time on May 27, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Exactly one year ago, we moved to this “new house” and were blessed with a front door on the ground floor, lovely neighbours and most of all, a huge garden space for the kids!

For over ten years, we’d been living in a first floor flat. Sure it was roomy and in a nice part of town, but with the kids it was hardly desirable. Especially when Hubby dearest and I married and my step-children began to stay each weekend. When little Angel came along, it was almost unbearable. There was nowhere safe for the children to play; no green space to admire, and certainly no area to sit out in the sun in the summertime.

I’m so glad to be here!

Last summer was something of a frenzy and we barely had time to relax and enjoy our new home. Between decorating, clearing the jungle in the back garden and our two-month trip to Tunisia, there was barely any time to cultivate a garden. This year, we’ve had more time to enjoy the outdoor space: we had the garden turfed, created a space for plants and installed a fence to keep prying eyes away from our precious ones. We even bought a sand pit and playhouse for the kids. And for the first time in my life I’ve been able to grow things from seeds. I feel so proud of what we’ve achieved!

What I love most is the change I’ve seen in the children: they all seem so much happier, even on rainy days like today. And they’re developing a wonderful interest in plants and the environment; especially my little man, who today insisted we go to the garden centre so he could buy a plant with his pocket money!

I thought he would have chosen a Venus fly trap, which he could feed with the ever increasing number of huge spiders that plague our lounge. Luckily, the garden centre didn’t have any in stock. I say “lucky” because I can’t stand that he picks them up and lets them run all over him! It’s not that I’m scared of spiders: I just have a strange fear of them crawling on my feet…

Anyway, he settles on a seedling cucumber plant, and little Angel insisted she got in on the action by nursing a cherry tomato plant back to the car. It was so sweet watching them water their little seedlings, and give them pride of place on the kitchen windowsill “because mummy, it’s too wet for them to be outside just now!”

In this last year, I’ve seen my little seedlings blossom and flourish. I love to watch them grow…

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"Green" cleaning can really save you money!

In house and home on May 26, 2007 at 6:00 pm

These days we’re bombarded with advertisements for the latest (and supposedly, greatest) cleaning products on the market: washing up liquids, laminate floor cleaner, toilet limescale remover… The list is endless!

What such adverts fail to tell you is that there are essentially five natural ingredients you can use to keep you entire home clean and bright. Much better for your purse strings, and better for the environment too! So I present to you my list of five essential natural cleaning products, which can save you pounds on your monthly cleaning bill, and make you feel so much better that you’re helping to save the planet by using them:

  1. White vinegar: a natural disinfectant and cleaner; can be used to make windows and glass shine! Reduces mineral and lime deposits, and can be used to treat stains.
  2. Lemons: traditionally used for cutting through grease; also great as a deodoriser and fragrancer.
  3. Olive oil: a wonderful alternative to furniture polish (see Tracy’s post for a great example).
  4. Bicarbonate of soda: when mixed with water, this forms an alkaline solution which is great for all round cleaning (such as surfaces, fridges, floors, etc). Use neat as a scourer with a kitchen sponge, or form a thick paste for stubborn stains. Combine with vinegar for an extra strength cleaning solution.
  5. Borax: a great disinfectant. Dilute in water to replace your usual disinfectant for mopping or cleaning nasty messes. Can also be used to clean toilets, clear drains and as an insecticide.

And here’s some examples of how these essential ingredients can be used for all your cleaning needs:

All purpose cleaners:

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in 1 litre of water for an all purpose cleaning fluid.
  • Add a few slices of lemon for a pleasantly fragranced washing-up solution
  • Mix to a paste with water and a few drops of vinegar for really stubborn stains or burnt pans.


  • Mix half a cup of borax with five litres of hot water and clean with this solution (be sure to wear rubber gloves as borax is quite strong and can harm your delicate hands!). For a fragranced disinfectant, add some of your favorite herbs, steep for five minutes and strain; alternatively fragrance with a few drops of your favorite essential oils.
  • 2 tablespoons of borax, lemon juice and 2 cups of hot water can be combined to make a great antibacterial surface cleaner; decant into a spray bottle and use like a regular disinfectant spray (much cheaper than branded chemical solutions!

Glass cleaning:

  • Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle make a great window cleaning solution (use more vinegar if your windows are really dirty). Buff to a shine with crumpled newspaper.
  • Alternatively, use 1/2 a cup of lemon juice and two cups of water, and apply as before.

Toilet cleaner:

  • Flush the toilet to wet the bowl, and sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda. Spray on vinegar and leave overnight for best results and scrub with a toilet brush to clean and deodorise your loo. For stubborn stains, leave the solution overnight before scrubbing, to make it gleam!

Drain cleaner:

  • Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda down the drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Leave to foam for a few minutes, then flush with boiling hot water. Does exactly the same as expensive drain cleaning solutions!

These are just a few of the ways you can clean your home using inexpensive, natural products. For more ideas, take a look at these hints and recipes.

All of these ingredients are cheap to buy, and could be purchased from your local supermarket (try a hardware store if you have trouble sourcing borax). You can also purchase great value natural cleaning products online from Soap Kitchen Online.

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