Tag Archive | Upcycling furniture

A Summer Harvest & A Cheap Makeover

It’s nice to be back blogging after two weeks of decorating.  Unfortunately I started painting on the hottest week of the summer and I have got to say I struggled with the heat.   I wasn’t the only one to struggle with the heat, poor Judy didn’t know what to do with herself and most of the time she sat in front of a fan we constantly had on:

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Though we have had some cloudy days since, the ground was still dry and the rain we had on Tuesday this week was very welcome….though not enough to fill my water butts.

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In my garden over the last two weeks:

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I finished picking the last broad beans in my garden and the last peas and mangetout (though I let the mangetout grow a little bit too big, but I won’t waste them)…..

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….And I froze most of them to use another time:

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I chopped the old broad beans down to ground level, leaving the roots in the ground to rot down.  The nodules on the roots will provide the ground with extra nitrogen as they rot, which will benefit future crops:

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I then added some blood, fish and bone and gave the area a really, really good water and then added some home made compost to the area:

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Incidentally, I now make the compost in galvanised dustbins as I am very conscious that the compost I used to make at the allotment always seemed to attract rats (even though I was very very careful what I put onto the heap).  The galvanised dustbins don’t have any holes in the base and yet they still make wonderful compost as you can see below:

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I then sowed some more french bean seeds as I use a lot of these during the year and they are great to freeze.  I decided to put the seeds under bottles in the hope that they germinate pretty quickly as I am really a bit late sowing them – however, if we have a good Autumn with late frosts then I should get a good harvest.  The bottles will also give them some slug protection too.

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The french beans I sowed earlier in the year are giving me a harvest now and I am picking them often:

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And my runner bean harvest is just beginning:

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 I absolutely love this time of year when the flowers I have grown from seed are all in bloom….

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…..and my vegetable plants that I have also grown from seed are producing lovely fruits and vegetables daily e.g. my greenhouse cucumbers, greenhouse tomatoes, oudoor cherry tomatoes, courgettes and patty pans:

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I have also picked a few raspberries this week too:

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And the chives that I cut back after they flowered have once again grown and we are now picking them yet again for salads, together with nasturtium leaves and the pretty petals on the calendula flowers:

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“When I am in the garden amongst the fruit and vegetables that I am growing, I feel very privaledged to share this area with the wildlife that visit our small backgarden. 

Each day there is something new for me to see and I still feel excited when I spot something that will soon be ready to harvest……Nothing else gives me as much satifaction than growing and cooking with home grown produce”

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….This week I noticed that my blueberries are nearly ready and I also spotted some outdoor cucumbers growing:

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Extra jobs this week in the garden:

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I have continued dead heading every few days around the garden so the plants produce more flowers.

I have also removed some of the lower leaves on my tomato plants this week, so the tomatoes can now ripen better in the sun:

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And I also ‘summer’ pruned my apple and pear cordons. My trees are quite young so I’m not expecting any fruit for a while:

  Summer pruning of apple and pear cordons / fans and espallier trees,  restricts growth, whilst winter pruning encourages growth”

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A problem with my Busy Lizzies…

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I’m not sure if you remember, at the beginning of June I planted some Busy Lizzies around my bay tree.  To begin with they flowered well but the last few weeks I have noticed the leaves all began to fall off  the plants:

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After doing some research it seems they have suffered with an airbourne fungus that you can read about here.  So I destroyed all the plants and nipped to my local nursery and found they were selling off trays of twenty four bedding begonias for just £3….a fantastic bargain!

So I planted these around my bay tree and even had spares to dot around the garden too…..so I was very pleased:

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Over the last two weeks at home:

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About a month ago at a car boot sale I spotted some curtains with nice material to use around the house, so I brought them for £2.  It wasn’t until I got home that I discovered they were Marks and Spencer, fully lined and ‘weighted’ curtains (dated 1995) with a pelmet included and they were in excellent condition…. they weren’t even faded……they must have been really expensive when they were first purchased!

I quickly measured the curtains and found they would fit perfectly in our bedroom around our bay.  The curtains we already had were very cheap and they had been in the bedroom for fifteen years already and didn’t really fit properly.

So this is when we decided the bedroom needed a new lick of paint…..which I did on the hottest week of the year so far this summer!

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I attached a new curtain rail in front of the exisiting rail to hang the pelment up too.  But I then found the pelmet was too long so I set about altering it:

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With the bits of spare material, I made a matching pair of tiebacks…..and I am really proud of how it all looked in the end (it may not be everybodies cup of tea, but we like them):

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Our furniture in the bedroom is really old and nothing matches, but we will have to wait and save up for new furniture another day.  However we decided to make the best of what we do have:

I store al ot in our bedroom e.g. birthday and christmas presents, toilet rolls, photo,s etc. and so up until now we have used ugly plastic boxes and our daughters old toy box…..so I set to work to glam them up:

First I painted the toy box white and used an old wall paper off -cut to paste around the sides:

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And then I again used wall paper off-cuts to line the inside of the plastic boxes so the contents can’t be seen:

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And I was really pleased with the results.

The bedroom isn’t quite complete, but I’ll tell you about it next week.

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Finally (while my paints were still out),  I painted an old bedside table to finish off my daughter’s bedroom that I decorated last October.  I sanded it down and gave it three coats of paint and painted the ‘knobs’ black (using a tester pot) to match the furniture we brought for her last year for birthday/christmas.

Mr Thrift laughed at me as I used potatoes to paint the knobs so they were easy to handle and could dry without touching anything:

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I was very pleased with the result (the photo on the right is the chest of draws we brought last year and the photo on the left is the newly painted bedside cabinet):

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I must say, her bedroom looks like a showhouse bedroom now and I can’t quite believe I managed to do it so cheaply by decorating it myself, making the curtains and cushions and now by ‘up-cycling’ the bedside cabinet!….I’m very pleased and she loves it:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

XXXX

Pumpkin Muffin Cakes With A Mascarpone Frosting

The clocks went back an hour last week and it really feels like Autumn is here.  There have been some beautiful sunny, crisp days this week and there have also been some rotten, wet days too:

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But the leaves are turning brown and falling and each day looks beautiful wether it is sunny or wet.

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This week I have been busy catching up in my home after last weeks decorating.  Someone asked me last week how I organise myself so that I do so much…..in truth, if I’m doing something like decorating, then the bare minimum gets done.  We have quick meals or freezer meals which I have cooked ahead of time and I keep on top of the washing, but everything else is put on hold…..as you can see from the mess in our kitchen in the photograph below:

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I have concentrated on finishing my daughter’s bedroom this week.  We had ordered some flat pack furniture that was delivered on Saturday.

The furniture is an early birthday and Christmas present for my daughter and she has also paid for some of it from her allowance too.

I have got to say that the instructions for assembling it were terrible and it took me ages to put it together and there was a small piece missing which the shop have promised they will post to us.

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But when they were finished they did look good and my daughter was very pleased:

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I also put her curtain pole back up after painting it, but found that the rings wouldn’t slide across the pole easily when I tried to shut the curtains.  So I used a wax candle to rub across the top of the pole and it now works well (this is something you can do with any curtain track that sticks).IMG_2739 IMG_2776

I am very pleased with the curtain pole, but it will look better when I get around to making the new curtains for her too.

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This week I also stained the old mirror from my youngest daughter’s bedroom, as she didn’t want it.

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As you can see in the photograph above, I used my very old tin of left over woodstain.

The mirror now sits in my eldest daughter’s bedroom, matching her furniture:

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Incidentally, my eldest daughter’s old mirror now sits in my bedroom, as the frame on my old mirror had final broken after twenty three years of use).

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As I still had some woodstain left, I used it to paint the shelves that again my youngest daughter didn’t want in her new bedroom.  The shelves now sit in my kitchen where the old chest freezer used to be before it broke.  These shelves will be great for both my daughters’ school work, to keep it tidy:

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Finally, we gave my daughters old desk to ‘Loros’ to resell and I put her old wardrobe onto ‘freecycle‘ and it was picked up by a lovely lady on Wednesday.  This wardrobe was given to us second hand, thirteen years ago and I think it still looked in good condition. So it was lovely to know that it will still be used, rather than ending up in a landfill site.

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Halloween

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Tomorrow is halloween and each year many pumpkins are carved and the insides are just thrown away and I so hate waste.  So I thought today I would share a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes with you:

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Pumpkin Recipes:

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Spicy Pumpkin Soup….the recipe is here.

 Pumpkin and Orange Cake….the recipe is here.

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Pumpkin and Apple Chutney….the recipe is here.

Pumpkin Lasange…the recipe is here.

Pumpkin, Raisin and Orange Muffins….the recipe is here.

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  Don’t forget you can freeze raw pumpkin.  In the photograph below you can see the frozen pumpkin that I used to make the cake recipe below…..this is raw pumpkin that had been in my freezer since January this year and I cooked it without defrosting it first.

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Also, most recipes ask for ‘pumpkin puree’…..to make this just cook the pumpkin in boiling water until it is soft and then drain the water and mash it.  I have found that you need approximately double the amount of raw pumpkin to make the pumpkin puree i.e 600g of raw pumpkin makes approx. 300g of pumpkin puree.

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Pumpkin puree can also be frozen in batches, ready weighted out for your favourite recipes.

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This year I decided to make a different pumpkin muffin with a mascarpone cheese frosting and it turned out well and tasted really nice:

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Pumpkin Muffins with a Mascarpone Frosting:

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Pumpkin Cakes:

230g self-raising flour

150g granulated sugar

100g soft brown sugar

100ml sunflower oil

3 eggs

170g of pumpkin puree

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

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Mascarpone Icing:

250g mascarpone cheese

50g icing sugar

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Extra bit of soft brown sugar for decoration (optional)

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Preheat your oven to 180C / Gas 4 /350F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a bowl and set aside.

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In a separate bowl mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil until combined.

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Beat in the eggs one at a time.

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Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla.

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Fold in the flour from the separate bowl, a little bit at a time.

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Half fill muffin cases with the mixture and then bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

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Put the cakes on a cooling tray.

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When the cakes have cooled down, mix the mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice together and either pipe it or spread it on the cakes. I then put an extra pinch of soft brown sugar on each cake for decoration.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week!