Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Map Art for Loo Interest

Every toilet needs something to occupy your thoughts while you are ... busy! I wont share the pictures of Michael Jackson in my bathroom, but wanted to show the map art in the downstairs loo. It's a really easy Ikea hack using RAM frames and a map.

The frames are small and hold pictures which are 15cm by 10cm, so I sectioned my map of Ireland into rectangles to fit each frame using a rule and faint pencil lines, cut up each section (be careful not to get all the pictures out of order - place them on the floor in the right order, or else number each one on the back) and put them into the frame. I set the frames on the ground making sure the map lines joined in order to retain the shape of Ireland. Lastly, I measured the total height and width of all the frames in order to begin placing them on the wall so the whole thing was centred. I used blue tac to hold them to the wall temporarily to get them in position, then used sticky velcro to hold them in place.

With more time, I'd paint each frame white and am thinking of creating a back panel in a bold colour, but for now it has been successful and sparks many a conversation!

I've been featured ... !!

Big thanks to Judy for featuring my rug on her very cool blog DIY by Design. Have a look at some amazing projects and tutorials at

Thanks Judy! Check it out by clicking her button

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Telephone Table Before and After

I inherited my Granny's telephone table recently and I've just finished giving a bit of TLC. The dark wood and green cushion were not my favourite, but I'm really pleased with how it has turned out. I hope Granny wouldn't have been too devastated!



Friday, 29 July 2011

New Rug

There are some amazing examples of painted floors around the blogs at the moment - I love a project which is hand made, money saving and best of all, original. Have a look at this collection of examples:

I still love my polished porcelain floor tiles and the rest of the house is carpeted, but I have long been wanting a few rugs for the kitchen and the hallway. Inspired by examples like this one I decided to have a go at painting some carpet remnants. So here are the very simple stages of my new hallway runner

I cut a piece of carpet to size and decided that a bar code pattern would be easiest as a starting project. The lines were easy with masking tape. My floor tiles wipe clean so I didn't use anything to protect them, but obviously newspaper of a dust sheet underneath is needed if you are more careful than me.
Next step: paint! I used some old purple paint to co-ordinate with the walls in the hallway (officially the walls are 'mellow mocha' but they look a dusky purple in some lights, so purple accessories work well). The paint was luckily quite thin, but if it were any thicker then a thinner would be needed. If the paint is too thick it will gloop-up (not a technical term!) and look clumpy. A thin paint absorbs much better into the carpet. 

Give the paint a little while to dry - couple of hours, then peel away the masking tape and you should have some neat lines and a new rug. I left it outside on a warm day to fully dry - the very last thing you want are purple footprints through the house. If I were a perfectionist, I'd take this to a carpet shop and get them to edge it to finish it nicely, but to be honest, I'm very happy with it as it is.

This is the finished hallway. Skirtings have been painted (white gloss), walls painted (mellow mocha), purple lampshade and rug complete it nicely. I am enjoying cutting purple sweet peas from the garden this month to complete the look! Next month I am getting my Granny's telephone table (currently mahogany coloured wood with a green velvet cushion...a wee bitt 1970s for my taste) which I have big plans for, so the hall isn't quite finished yet. Watch this space. 

The Garden (almost) Complete

The garden make over began before Easter and has now been completed for a while. Here's a reminder of the raised beds being built.

Once the beds were built, we dug up the grass - this was totally back breaking work (I had a little help with it). We laid the dug-up turf upside-down into the bottom of the beds, partly to save many trips to the dump but mainly because it will rot down and become great compost in the base of the beds, making it cheaper to fill the beds. So it all got much worse before it got better.

I lined the ground with a weed suppressing membrane and then had two tonnes of gravel delivered to replace the grass. I had assumed the gravel would arrive in bags which could be lifted into a wheelbarrow and easily brought round the back, however it arrived like this ...

But thankfully my brother-in-law, mum, dad and brother arrived just in time to start shovelling! They were great and it only took about 2 hours in the end. I also got a tonne of organic top soil to fill up the beds and here are some pics of the results.

So all that was left to do was plant them up - I was mainly interested in growing salad for the summer, but I have had great success with peas and carrots, and more recently the parsnips have taken off. I have learnt a lot about when to plant seeds and how to protect my little seedlings from mice, wild rabbits, birds and other critters. This summer was the trial run - next summer I'll be self-sufficient. Well, maybe!

You might have spotted the grassy bit at the back - it slopes upwards, so I won't be able to gravel it, so am still thinking about what to do with it. I plan to dig it over and plant lavender plants all along it, but am still in the early stages of propagating lavenders, so this might not get done for a little while longer. For now, I am very happy pottering around my vegetable garden and eating peas. Every time I hear a lawn mower I feel a little but smug! Hope you like it.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spelling Bee

Today the Belfast Newsletter published a story about the Times Spelling Bee - I have a team entered for this competition, so we had our picture taken and are getting ready to spell under pressure. How exciting/geeky/embarrassing (my chubby cheeks and hunched up shoulders ... oh well! Quite proud of the boys, so I'll ignore my posture for now).

Here's the link so you can check us out!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Garden makeover: Progress ... ummm... ongoing.

The back garden at my house has many problems:

  • it is on a very slight slope downwards towards the house
  • it faces almost fully north, which means little full sun
  • the small patches of moss of last year are now large swamps and cover about 80% of the area!
  • the garden is situated (along with the house) in Fermanagh - the wettest place on earth.
So ... goodbye grass. Goodbye moss. Your reign is ending. I know I could improve the drainage, tackle the moss, persevere, but ultimately this will result in weekly mowing all summer, a job I detest. So goodbye grass. Hello raised beds and home grown veggies! The plan involves building the raised beds, digging up the grass and laying gravel around the beds.

Here is the progress so far (by the way, pics make it look like he did all the work ... he did not!)

The beds aren't in their final resting place in the picture - they'll most likely be parallel. Still much work to do over the next few weekends. Next job includes digging up the lawn and using it as mulch in the bottom of the raised beds, with the goal of saving a bit of money when buying topsoil/compost.