Saturday, 31 March 2012


The last day in March and my final spring cleaning post, phew! Two tips for you today on cleaning carpets.

Remove hair (pet or human) from carpets with a clean trainer.  Pop the trainer on your hand and rub it over the carpet and see the hair lift off.  I've also heard rubber gloves to the same.

My recipe for a carpet refresher.  I hope you stocked up on Bicarbonate of Soda at the beginning of the month because  your about to need it again.  Mix bicarbonate of soda with dried lavender flowers, sprinkle over your carpets.  Leave for an hour or more and vacuum off.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


My final room in the house for spring cleaning is the Kitchen.  Its fair to say your kitchen takes quite a beating day to day.  Here are my tips for cleaning it effectively and cheaply.
Wash your cupboard fronts down with warm water and washing up liquid, don't forget to do the tops too.  Washing up liquid is perfect for this as cupboard doors tend to accumulate grease.  Washing up liquid will dissolve this no problem and you already have it in your kitchen.

I have a stainless steal sink and hob.  When we viewed this house I fell in love with the kitchen, I loved the units and the french doors onto the garden.  But I remember looking at the sink and hob and saying they're going to be a nightmare to clean.  What that says about me, I don't know.  I was right though.  However I have discovered two things.  The 1st tip will remove limescale from around your taps.  Soak cotton wool in vinegar and wrap it around your tap.  leave it for an hour of two then remove.  The acid in the vinegar will dissolve the lime scale.  This works well about as well as any lime scale remover I have ever tried but is significantly cheaper.  I won't lie to you it won't completely remove lime scale but I have never found anything that does this.  For really stubborn water marks try lemon juice instead of vinegar the acid is stronger.
When you have cleaned your sink give it a polish with... baby oil!  Just a small amount of a piece of kitchen towel gives a wonderful shine.

For my hob I use warm water and washing up liquid to remove grease, vinegar also works well and then polish with the baby oil.  It really does give an outstanding shine to stainless steal.

Moving on to the oven.  I tied the "green oven cleaners" Ecover, the one endorsed by a TV chef and the eye wateringly expensive Method oven cleaner.  They did nothing!  In frustration and desperation I went out and bought a full on chemically loaded oven cleaner.  It got the oven clean enough but every time I used my oven the kitchen smelt of oven cleaner and when I opened the door my eyes would burn with the fumes.  Not nice!  Then I saw this video on you-tube of a woman sprinkling bicarb onto the bottom of her oven and then spraying it with water.  She left it over night and in the morning wipes all the gunk out.  I tired it... It works!  I will never use oven cleaner again.  Don't believe me see for yourselves

  A paste of Bicarbonate of Soda and water on a glass oven door works well too.  Leave the paste overnight and clean off.  I use a scouring pad to lift off any remaining dirt

Monday, 26 March 2012

Edible glitter

I don't know about you but I am looking forward to moving on from the spring cleaning.  Although I have enjoyed cleaning the house from top to bottom I am ready to start enjoying other spring pleasures.  I thought I would start the week with a post wholly unrelated to spring cleaning before my final two spring cleaning posts
I recently found a recipe in a book entitled Queen of Crafts by Jazz Domino Holly for edible glitter.  My four year old insisted we try it immediately.  A quick mention about this book I would recommend it if you are interested in taking up a craft but are not sure what to try as is gives an overview and some lovely modern projects in everything from sewing and knitting to cake making to kitchen gardening  and making your own cosmetics.

Back to the glitter.

you will need:
Gum Arabic* 2tbsp (this was all of the 12g tub I bought online so if you want to do more than one batch be warned)
Water 2tbsp
Food Colouring.  

*I struggle to find Gum Arabic, if you don't live near a specialist cake shop I bought it online here. Unfortunately postage was more than the Gum Arabic itself - not very thrifty I know but I had a desperate 4year old on my hands.  If anyone knows of a supplier that doesn't charge postage PLEASE let me know.

The Gum Arabic - which is made from tree resin and used to create glazes and glitter on cakes and also in candle making - came in powder formed but formed a sticky resinous substance when the water was added.  Melt in a bain marie - that is bowl placed over a pan of simmering water stir until the gum is completely dissolved.  Add the food colouring or omit this is you want silver sparkles.

In the book the author recommends using a clean pastry brush to paint the mixture onto a glass bowl, this is what I did however, it didn't work brilliantly.  I would recommend using a silicon pastry brush (not a traditional bristled one) to paint the mixture thickly onto a glass plate.

Leave at room temperature to dry for 12 hours.  The mixture will form a film over the plate which you scrape off with a sharp knife.  Now put the flakes in a bowel and crush them with the end of a rolling pin to create you sparkles.  Keep in an airtight container should last months!

This recipe was a lot of fun but also quite a lot of work for not a massive amount of glitter.  I would love to know how you get on if you try it.

Staying in the kitchen I will be posting about thrifty cleaning tips for your kitchen later this week, I was researching this topic all weekend and have some good tricks to share with you.  I hope to get this post up on Wednesday so do check back.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Love your appliances

Your appliances work pretty hard for you so give them a good clean this spring.


Wash the outsides of white good with warm soapy water.

Put a cup of bleach into your washing machine detergent drawer and run it empty to give it a clean.  This will remove build up in the pipes too.  The same treatment can be used for dishwashers as well.

Remove the shelves from your fridge and the drawers and wash them in warm soapy water let them air dry completely before you replace them.  Don't forget to put sponges in your vegetable drawers to soak up excess moisture and make your veggies last longer.  Also a small pot with bicarb in will absorb odours in your fridge.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

 7. Towel rail for cleaning products  8. Ice removes gum & wax  9.From fruit sack to pan scrubber

Picture number 5 is the long awaited DIY fabreze recipe I tried a few weeks ago, it works well and uses very simple ingredients you will have around the house.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Children and toys.

As soon as a child arrives in your life, so do the toys and they just keep coming!

They are expensive and messy but kids love them.

My motto is a place for everything.  If toys can be cleared out of sight at the end of the day you can relax and enjoy your "grown-up time" without tripping over my little pony's and lego all evening.  A large ottoman that ties in with the rest of your decor makes a nice toy box and can also be sat on if need be.  Pine blanket boxes come in many different sizes and are readily available in antique shops these also make great toy boxes for the living room.  For toys with small or many parts look out for plastic containers to keep them together, this can be as simple as an ice cream tub or I find vanish containers very useful and easy to decorate.  make sure that your children can open them by themsleves though.

For soft items such as dressing up clothes and teddies a colourful pop up laundry basket makes ideal storage, these are also very inexpensive.

Toys can also be expensive.  If you want to buy a particularly expensive item for your child ask relatives to contribute.  For example for my eldest daughters 3rd birthday we wanted to get her a dolls house.  We bought the dolls house for her and grandparents, aunts and uncles all bought sets of furniture to fill it.  It worked out really well and although it required a little organisation to ensure we didn't get 3 kitchen sets and no beds, it was woth the effort.
Also before you invest in an expensive toy see if you can borrow one or let your child try one through a toy library or local toddler group.  I always find it useful to watch my little ones at toddler groups to find out which toys they are enjoyed most and would be worth having at home.

I keep a large box on top of my girls wardrobe full of toys for "rainy days".  On days when we are stuck in and bored we get this box down & my girls really enjoy seeing toys they haven't played with for a while

Finally a great place to get rid of toys your children have outgrown and pick up new ones are car boot sales, charity shops and school fairs.  Gumtree is also a great place to pick up new and get rid of old toys.  Sort through your children's toys at least once year, more often when they are very small and changing rapidly.  Older children can help with the sort out and clean up toys before selling them I believe this is a good habit to encourage children into.

Thursday, 15 March 2012


We had a little incident this week when my youngest little angel got hold of a lipstick.  Don't ask me how, the irony is that when I went out of Friday night I could not find a single lipstick anywhere!  Any way my little monkey had pulled a bag down from a shelf, emptied it and found a lipstick right at the very bottom.
I should also add all this happened at 6am.  My daughter got up took herself downstairs and thought to herself "what shall I do today" I was woken later to be told by my four year old - who had just woken up.  I had to come and look at the "benourmouse" mess her sister had made.  The lipstick was all over her, all over her clothes and all over the banisters - worst of all it was ALL over the carpet.
So in case you are ever in the same position here is what works and what doesn't work to get lipstick out of carpet.
  • Cornflour to absorb the grease - not a huge success but mostly because the lipstick was well worked into the carpet, had it been on the surface this may have stopped an oil mark developing.
  • Fairy liquid - this did improve the stain but I was cautious about using too much and working up too much of a lather.  On a really thin carpet this would work well.
  • Vodka - this actually did quite a good job but there was still a very visible lipstick mark on the carpet.
By this point I really just wanted the mark gone and was sick of scrubbing my carpet so I used Vanish power shot carpet cleaner.  It smelt strong and chemically, but hey the Vodka didn't smell great either but it worked!  I think the Vodka tip may be worth remembering for smaller future carpet stains - I'm sure there will be many.

Tip: If you don't drink, or don't keep spirits in the house but want to try this.  Buy miniatures from wine shops.  Any clear strong spirit should work as a solvent on difficult stains.  i tested the carpet in an inconspicuous area first.

My thanks to my darling daughter for inspiring this post, you really didn't have to.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


You may be shocked by what I am about to say but vinegar, bicarb, lemons forget it.  I'm sorry but in the bathroom I've never found anything that works as well as my cream cleaner and bleach.*  I know it's not especially thrifty or great for the environment but in hard water areas these alternatives just don't cut it.

So roll up your sleeves get your favourite cleaner out and scrub!!!  Just so your not totally disappointed with this post here are a few everyday cleaning tips for your bathroom.  

Begin your cleaning in the bathroom.  Spray on your cleaner or disinfectant — which needs time to kill germs — and come back after you've tidied up another room

For the shower - Keep a squeegee and microfibre cloth handy.  The squeegee removes "big water"; the microfibre cloth gets those last drops. It'll save you a lot of scrubbing later. Tesco do value micro fibre cloths very cheaply that are perfect for this.

Grout - this is the bain of my life ours permanently looks grotty despite my best efforts but an old toothbrush and plenty of elbow grease do make it look a LOT better.  How about doing this whilst you deep condition your hair in the bath?

* with one exception bicarb and vinegar to clean stained toilets, see here.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Shoes off!

My tip of the day... take your shoes off at the door.
I know it's dull and perhaps a little unwelcoming to ask guests to remove their shoes at the door but consider this...

85% of the dirt on your soles rubs off in the first four steps you take into your home!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Charity Shopping.

I am very fortunate that my nearest town has lots of charity shops.  I love nothing more than browsing the them (preferably on my own) at the weekend.  The thing about charity shops is that you never know what you are going to find - this is both great fun and, at times, frustrating if you are looking for something specific.  Generally I would advise against going to charity shops looking for specific items however, that is exactly what I did this weekend & amazingly I found everything I was looking for.

Knitting needles in various sizes.  I prefer bamboo needles but I am only just starting out so don't want to spend a lot of money building my collection. I found a complete set of 4 double pointed needles for circular knitting.  I paid £1 for each set.  I also found some lovely very classic buttons.
We have an American style waggon - the classic radio flyer.  I love it!  It gets two children and all their togs back from the allotment in style and comfort.  It's also perfect for carting tired children and all their end of term paintings/junk models/lost property back from school & when it snows I put a sheep skin in the bottom and wrap a quilt around the girls.  It's so handy!  I have been thinking about making/finding a crochet granny style blanket for the waggon as I find the quilt is a little too stiff to drape.  I thought I would have a look for one in a charity shop - on the off chance they had one.  And look...
I am so chuffed with this find & it has a cute story behind it.  Apparently the lady who makes these is 93 and says she crotchets them to "keep her out of mischief".  Her husband (also 93) cycles from the villages into town to deliver them to the charity shop.  The best part of this is the price - just £3!  That's slave labour, I couldn't even buy the wool for that.  I appreciate it's an acquired taste but I just love how mad it is, it makes me smile & my girls love the colours.

I also found some fabric remnanats, these are my favourite things to pick up in charity shops.  I found 4 meters of quilted fabric in pale pink.  I've been wanting to make a 50s style circle skirt in a quilted fabric for quite a while.  I plan to dye the fabric but it cost 99p so even if I just use it for my muslin it was a great find.

My tips for charity shopping.
  • Pop in frequently as the good stuff goes quickly & if the staff get to know you and know what you like to look for they might keep items aside for you.
  • Don't go looking for somthing specific.
  • Use your imagination, once you've got it home and given the item a wash it's likely to look a lot better.  Also think about making simpe alterations yourself, adding trims or accessories to your purchase can tranform it.
  • To find the good stuff you have to be prepared to get stuck in.
  • Take some hand sanitizer with you, some items can be a little grubby.    Other stuff is brand new and in the packaging - you just never know. 
What are your top tips for successful charity shopping?

Friday, 9 March 2012


This week I've been spring cleaning my bedroom, lots of laundry involved!  Here are my tips for you.

Image via
 Remove your curtains and blinds and wash them, check the label 1st.
Then remove all your bedding, sheets, mattress protector right down to the mattress.  Wash your pillows, duvet, quilts, sheets - the lot!

Clean and dust under your bed including the skirting board - you will be horrified how dirty they get.  Dust the rest of the room from the top down, open the windows whilst doing this.

Now mix hald a coffee cup of Bicabonate of Soda with a 2-4drops of lavender essential oil.  Do this in a jar or sealable container and shake to mix.  Then sprinkle all over your mattress and leave for 1 hour or more then, vacuum it off.  This not only de-odorises your mattress but the bicarb will draw out moisture from the mattress.  Vacuuming also kills a lot of dust mites.  If you have a steam cleaner steam cleaning your mattress will kill even more dust mites.  Consider buying a steam cleaner if you have allergy sufferers in your household.

Leave the rest of the room for an hour after dusting to let the dust settle now vacuum.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


This post is dedicated to Fiona, who has been such an encouragement to me.

Dear Readers 
In another departure from my spring cleaning posts, don't worry more to follow, I give you the following ramblings about my blog.  The idea of this blog was conceived in my head a LONG time before it materialised.  Could I do it?  Were my IT skills up to a blog?  My spelling certainly isn't (I’ll come out of the closet now I am dyslexic). Would anyone read my blog?  Would I be able to come up with enough material? Would it be a chore to keep up?  So many questions.  Then one day I had a chance conversation about stale lemons, just your average conversation (or maybe not) "Oh I hate it when lemons go stale in the fridge" I replied with "Oh just chop the end off and rub it over a wooden board, it deodorises it" To which my friend replied, you always have such great tips like that - thank you Miriam.  Which got me thinking this is just how my mind works - worryingly I’m a magpie for little tips and curious pieces of information.  But others do seem to find it interesting/useful or I just have very sweet friends who humour me but secretly think I’m crazy - possibly a combination of the two.  If it's any consolation my husband thinks I’m totally bonkers, but he still loves me.

So I began my blog, and did a post about stale lemons.  At first I was too scared to tell anyone.  Oddly the first person I told was my Sister who never minces her words (she honestly gave me a critique of my round robin Christmas letter) and is a professional journalist.  When she liked it I thought it can't be terrible and so I told my 4 best Mummy friends (my target audience).  Who loved it!  Thank you to Catrin & Claire particularly who all e-mailed me such lovely comments about it.  So I decided to jump straight in there and go public on Facebook and through e-mail.  I was so touched by how many of my friends bothered to read my blog and keep returning.  Even some men were brave enough to check it out (my lovely brother read the whole thing!).  My thanks at this point to Graham - technical  genius - who always advises me on how to improve my posts.  Also to Tracey for your continued encouragement & to Grethe who put the word out in Norway.

I worry sometimes that my blog is too fluffy that it doesn't really have any substance to it.  I promise you I have a sensible, intelligent side, I'm a fully trained counsellor you now, I can handle some quite heavy stuff.  But this blog is very much me I am hopelessly girly, thrifty, clean, crafty, smiley & a repository for strange information.  I hope all that comes across.  You may also be seeing the counsellor in me who constantly evaluates me and internal processes to try to better myself.  Currently wondering is it OK to be fluffy? Is this fluff signalling an unmet need that needs addressing?"

But then Fiona sent me this.  Fiona was introduced to my blog by a mutual friend Aggie.  I have never met Fiona but you will know her because she comments on my blog.  She leaves such lovely and encouraging comments that always make my day.  

Now if you can excuse the Cheesy American accent and listen to what this guy has to say, this is why I took a leap into the unknown and started my blog in the hope that this might be true.  So my question to you what are you holding back that might be obvious to you but amazing to someone else?  Let me encourage you to let it out, you might enjoy it.

So this blog created and imagined by me, bought into life by a conversation about lemons, nurtued along the way by kind friends and fervently encouraged and supported by Fiona.

Fiona writes a beautiful and very eloquent blog over at 

Were it not for Fiona's comments I may have given this up already.  PLEASE comment on my posts I love to hear what you think and get a dialog going on here.

P.S Next spring cleaning post will go up on Friday.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Presents for Men

 A little departure from all the spring cleaning as today is my Dad's birthday - Happy Birthday!
Men are notoriously difficult to buy presents for they don't like smellies or nick knacks, their interests tend to be specialist and their hobbies expensive.  Perhaps the way forward is a home made gift especially for them.  Here are my tips for the different types of men you may have in your life

The foodie - How about a hamper of homemade jams, or a trio of homemade liquors.  This will require some preparation and forethought but I think the key in transforming a gift like this is presentation.  Check out Creature Comforts blog for lots of free printable labels and wrapping ideas.  Also these adorable jam labels are really special.  Keep an eye out in charity shops for wicker baskets to really set your hamper off.

The outdoor type - Check out Martha Stewart's map coasters - find the maps in charity shops.

The Gardener - Take a log and drill holes of varying sizes straight into the log.  Use chunky garden twine or rope so the log can be hung up, and you have a bug house.

The Arty Type - Buy inexpensive post cards of a favourite place or just nice images and find frames to do up in charity shops.  I did this for my husband one year.  I found lovely sepia images of Cambridge, his favourite city and where we met.  I met a local artist recently who has produced some stunning and very contemporary images of Ely Cathedral - they would make a lovely gift.
Trendy type - Sew or knit a gadget cover for their i-pod, laptop, kindle, smart phone etc etc.
Executive type - Use a template (such as these) to make a personalised desk calender.

Grandpa/Great Grandpa's - very very tricky to buy for.  I have found treats tend to go down well - my Grandpa loves walnuts, so a nice bag of wild walnuts goes down very well (lots of trees around here).  My Grandad loved crystallised ginger so I buy a big bag in a health food shop and re- package it and make it look more attractive.  Do bear in mind Grandparents sometimes have false teeth, sensitive tummies, restricted diets and live on their own.  Don't give them gifts that need eating quickly.  If you are unsure a photograph of you or their great grandchildren for their boasting book will always be well received.  

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Toilet Cleaner Tip.

What a great day to start this series on Spring Cleaning, the sun is out and the birds are singing here.  It really got me in the mood (as did this beautiful picture) so today I decided to tackle the bathroom.
You will discover later that in the bathroom at least I'm not a massive fan of alternative cleaning methods.  I live in an area with some of the hardest water in the UK and the limescale really is a menace.  However I tried a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar today on my toilet which had built up some stains.  I used the toilet brush to work the foaming mixture around the bowl and left it for about an hour then scrubbed and flushed - it was sparkling!  I then used my regular toilet cleaner to freshen it and get rid of the smell of vinegar.  Yet another reason why I am not a fan of alternative cleaning methods.