The Homemade Home

Some homes can be real money gobblers. We save and save to afford them in the first place. And, the costs don’t end there. We move in, paint the walls, lay new flooring, tidy or redesign the garden. Sometimes we have to hire people to do professional jobs, other times we have to make do by ourselves.

From the price of getting the place looking right, to the cost of maintenance. There may not be any way around it, but there are ways to lessen the blow. Getting homemade at home is a sure way to cut your living costs. Not to mention that it allows you to get your house how you want it. Since moving into our new home, we have done most of the improvements ourselves. We have lived here now for 7 months and nearly every single day at least some of the time has been spent improving the property and its garden. There is a huge sense of pride knowing how hard you’ve worked, especially when you start to see it all come together. If you’re interested in turning your hand to home improvement, here are a few things to consider.

My kitchen curtains. Classic 1960's flower power. £3.50 charity shop. I have a blue table cloth to match.
My kitchen curtains. Classic 1960’s flower power. £3.50 charity shop. I have a blue table cloth to match.

Furniture

No home can function without furniture. Well, it can, but it wouldn’t be very comfortable! Without the addition of furniture, your four walls just become an empty box. When you’re starting out, though, furniture is a significant expense. There’s so much to get! That’s why it’s worth turning your DIY skills to furniture making first. There’s no need to skimp on quality, either. Buying good quality materials is still going to save you a lot of money. Find out what you need, and make sure to buy the best materials possible. They may not be the cheapest option, but you’ll be able to rest easy that your furniture will last. Make sure, too, to use proper adhesives when joining. A company like this Henkel distributor offer adhesive options that you can rely on. Make sure, too, to learn what you need to do before you get started. If you’ve never made furniture, research can tell you everything you need to know.

If you don’t fancy having a go at building your own furniture, why not visit some local charity shops or re-use barns in your local area. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, Gumtree or Freecycle for free items that you can have a go at upcycling or restoring yourself. It’s great fun, you can learn a new hobby and if you enjoy it so much it may even become a little business venture!

Decor


Once your furniture is ready to go, it’s time to turn your attention to decor. This may not be as necessary, but it’s the best way to add personality to your home. You can have a lot of fun with this. Make blankets and cushions to include in every room. You can match them to the decor in each space to ensure they work well. You could also get crafty by painting pictures for the walls. Why not go all out and make curtains? There’s no limit to what you can do. You don’t have to wait to find the perfect piece for each room. You can make it instead!

My home is very much a 1930’s -1970’s inspired home, mainly focusing on the 1930’s. Many of our items are original pieces that we have collected over the years. Our fireplace, armchairs, hanging paintings and even a complete Kitchenette are all lucky finds. I have also learnt to crochet and created a few throws and blankets for the house. YouTube has some fab videos to get you started and once you learn the basic’s, it can become very addictive!

Whipping up an Aunt Ruby’s pudding on the #vintage kitchenette. #1940s #retro #cooking #baking

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Find your style, play with it, tweak it and see what works for you. What I love most about having a handmade home is looking around and seeing items that are made by myself, or unique to my home. I don’t like having generic Ikea furniture that (it seems) nearly everyone else owns. I love having a story to tell about my items and people love asking about them too.

Upcycling

As I briefly mentioned above, it’s also worth mentioning the value of upcycling in your home. This is the perfect way to incorporate everyday items into your décor. Old jars, for example, are fantastic for storage. They can also make excellent vases- one of my favourites is an old coffee jar that now displays my cut flowers. I’ve done nothing to it, other than remove the label. If you have any wooden pallets, think about how you could incorporate those (we used some to make our own large compost heap for the garden) Or, you might want to use them as a base for house plants. Don’t be tempted to grow veg in them though, as some pallets have been treated with chemicals that can leach out into the soil and into your veg. Check the serial numbers (google can help you with this) if you really want to do so.

How about making some cushions from old t-shirts? Using this method will save you loads of money. Plus, you’ll have some truly unique pieces for your home! I have recently seen some fab cushion covers made from old men’s shirts. These make lovely keepsakes and the kids will enjoy cuddling into them at night.

I’m currently making a rag rug for our home from old bedding. I’m simply cutting the bedding into strips and circular crocheting with a big hook. Again, YouTube is amazing for tutorials and it’s a new skill that can be picked up very easily. Start saving your old bedding, t-shirts and curtains for this (or ask your family and friends for donations) and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your own rag rug can be made!

My rag rug made from scraps. Great fun and a new skill to learn.
My rag rug made from scraps. Great fun and a new skill to learn.

 

Why Kids Need Pencils Not iPads

This is a subject that I am very passionate about. I think kids need pencils not iPads. Some people agree whole heartedly with me and some people would like to see me being burnt at the stake like the medieval witch that I supposedly am. Get with the times Hazel. It’s the 21st Century.

Lets start with the adults.

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When was the last time you wrote a list? Put something on a physical calendar, not the one on your phone? Wrote an address on an envelope? Drew a picture with your child?

Chances are probably not for a while. Do you have a phone book? I don’t mean the digital mobile version but an actual handwritten phone book that sits by the house phone? I don’t. But I remember having one when I was a kid. I remember doodling in it while chatting to my BFF every night after school for hours and hours. In fact I still remember her home telephone number off by heart.

What I’m trying to say is, us adults remember a time when technology wasn’t in our daily lives. Heck, we even remember a time when computers weren’t found in every single home. Dial-up was exciting! Our kids don’t remember those days. All they know is that all big people have a phones, tablets or laptops firmly attached to our hands. What I find shocking is that I know of children at the age of 2 who have their OWN iPads.

Have you noticed that your handwriting has suffered because you no longer have to use it? Or maybe your spelling has flopped to an all time low. Why? Because spellcheck does it all for you. If you don’t know the meaning of a word then you simply Google it, don’t you dare ever use the dictionary.

When we were children we learnt to hold a pencil and write by watching and copying others who were already masters at the skill of written communication. I observed a child in nursery last week try to swipe-right a piece of A4 paper. I sh*t you not. I thought I was imagining it, but I wasn’t. Think about that for a second.

How are our children going to learn the art of writing, holding a pencil and how to glide the pencil over gorgeous smooth paper if parents encourage them to stare at a glowing screen inside?

Kids need pencils not iPads.

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OK, there is the obvious- Kids need to learn how to write. But what if we face a future were no human never has to write ever again. OK, that’s a very very unlikely scenario but the way this world is going and the speed of technology it wouldn’t knock my socks off if it did happen.

But kids use pencils and paper for lots of other things other than just mark making. Imagination, language skills, fine motor skills, colour recognition, self esteem are all developed through pencil and paper. Many parents will admit to letting their child under the age of 2 play on an iPad or smart phone. I admit it, although it is an extremely rare occurrence, and given the choice, I know my children would prefer to sit and draw in their sketchbooks. Not many parents I’ve met can say that.

Too much screen time in childhood has been linked to obesity, depression and aggression. Dangers of too much scribble time? The risk of a nasty paper cut or spending too much money on stationary.

It’s not just drawing lines. Kids let their imaginations run free; horses can be pink, the sky can be green and a car can also transform into a mutant spider that eats giant carrots. These are some of the things my kids have drawn. On paper. My girls help each other during arts and crafts time, they praise each other for their efforts and they admire each others work. Its hard to share an iPad screen. Screen time should not become a pacifier, but a child’s boredom can quickly be resolved with some fun imaginative play. Tipping up a whole pencil case across the floor might make any busy parent’s skin crawl but it guarantees some peace and quiet, and you will probably receive some awesome portrait of you in return.

The education system are wanting far more from young kids. They are expecting the level of learning to be higher than it was in previous years, yet in reality children are not meeting these ‘goals’ and are actually falling behind compared to where children were 10 years ago.

When I was told this during a parents meeting at my daughters first school induction week I scoffed (loudly and embarrassingly at the back of the hall), I was thrown daggers from a few parents.

But, what could be the cause? The only real obvious reason that I can think of is screen time becoming extended for all children in the last few years. Written skills are dropping…because no one writes any more. Minds are becoming numb to the outside world, and parents are spending more time on their own smart devices than playing and teaching their kids. It’s hard as a working adult too switch our brains off. Our ears are fine tuned to the ‘Ping!’ of an email. But will our children’s memories of us always feature a smart phone, rather than fun? I don’t want my kids memories of me to be ones of my head dipped and an illuminous glow highlighting my face.

How to get your kids to spend less time on an iPad and more time drawing

If you think that your child might be spending too much time on an iPad, smart phone or even watching TV, then hopefully after reading the above you will have made a personal pledge to get them to spend less and less time on them (or better still, no time at all!). Maybe you’re concerned about addiction to screen time or you just wish that your child would spend more time trying to write their name.

So, if you would like your child to choose pencils over iPads why not take them to a stationary shop (remember those?!) and let them choose some fun new crayons, pens, sketch pads and their own pencil case. You could always treat yourself to some new stationary too, if you’re feeling inspired.

Talk about the huge choice of what there is to buy and what they would like to create with their new stationary. Let your imaginations run wild! Don’t just stick to pens and pencils, explore the world of sticky-notes (great for teaching kids to read- label items in your home!) funky pencil sharpeners and have fun creating patterns with rulers.

Go home and get creative! You could set up a lovely writing desk in the corner of a room for your child to sit at. I find the living room best for this because it can take the focus away from the TV (turn it off first) and you will always be close by to see their amazing pieces of work. In the summer time encourage kids to get creative outside. The fresh air will help their minds run wild too. This week, we have been drawing frog spawn in nanny’s garden.

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National Stationary Week 2017

From April 24th- 30th it’s National Stationary Week. A perfect chance for you and your children to get some inspiration and get crafty with stationary. Each day if the week is a different theme, and I would love to see your daily creations. I shall be posting a different blog each day per theme and my Instagram will be full of stationary-tastic posts.

On the 26th-26th of April why not visit the London Stationary Show at London’s Business Centre. For more information about the show, what fab things there will be to see and do or even to exhibit at the show, please click here.

7 Days of stationary:

Monday 24th- Pen & Pencil Day

Tuesday 25th- Get Crafty

Wednesday 26th- World Stationary Day

Thursday 27th- Thank You Thursday

Friday 28th- Fountain Pen Friday

Saturday 29th- Signature Saturday

Sunday 30th- Write A Letter Day

Remember, whatever you share use the hashtags #writingmatters #natstatweek so we can see your fabulous National Stationary Week posts 🙂

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*All of the stationary featured in this post, and in any upcoming posts for National Stationary Week have been gifted to me. This post is an entry into the Stationary Blogger of The Year awards*