DIY Halloween Costumes That Your Little Ones Will Love

DIY Halloween Costumes That Your Little Ones Will Love

Halloween is one of those times in the year when parents the World over face the dreaded realization that they forgot to purchase an outfit for their little one. At times like More »

 

How to Make Your Living Room More Comfortable

Aside from the kitchen it is the living room where you spend most of your time, it makes sense therefore that your living room feels comfortable. Most living rooms are the first room people see when they walk into a house as well so you want this room to feel welcoming and warm. Usually when we first decorate our living rooms they look great but after much time spent there, they can start to look messy and full, if you find yourself in this situation then here are some tips to help you bring back the comfort to your living room.

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Tidy the Cables

Usually living rooms are full of tech, TV’s, gaming consoles, cable boxes, DVD players and more, all of this tech comes with wires and there is nothing more unsettling in the living room than wires hanging about all over the place. There are several cable tidy products on the market which will put all of your cables in one tidy place, it’s amazing how spacious the TV area looks when the cables are tidied away.

Use Scents

Comfort is a sensory experience and using nice smells in the living room is a great way to help you to relax. There are hundreds of products that you can choose from but my preference is the scent sticks, you simply place the oil of your favorite smell in the jar and place the wooden sticks inside. The wood absorbs the scent and emits it into the room, when the smell fades a little you simply need o turn the sticks over and the smell will return.

Sofa?

Sofas go through a lot in the living room, they are sat on, laid upon, jumped on and moved about, the average life span for your sofa to remain comfortable is around 3-5 years, if you are able to then look at buying a new sofa to bring the comfort back into your home. There is nothing quite like coming home from a long day at work to a super comfy sofa where you can immerse yourself. A sofa doesn’t have to cost the Earth, it just has to be super comfy.

The Walls

You don’t have to feng-shui your whole room in order to feel comfortable but there is some value in looking into some parts of the method. One such way is with art on your wall, you can find beautiful wall murals at places like House of Fraser Homeware sections and add some beautiful touches to your walls. The art should be something that either looks beautiful, relaxing or something that gives you optimism, items like these can really help you to relax. Feng shui suggests that you should have pictures like lovers kissing, open spaces like lakes and fields or anything with curved lines. As I said before, comfort is a full sensory experience and whilst you may not know that it is happening, being surrounded with artwork such as this can really make you feel relaxed and more importantly, comfortable.

Top 4 European Locations for Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels are some of the coolest places to stay when you go away, these niche hotels are designed with style in mind and often have themes to suit the discerning traveler. Some of the best boutique hotels in the World exist in Europe and each time I go away the only place I want to stay is in these fabulous hotels.

During my trips around Europe I have looked for stylish hotels like these and I want to share with you my favorite cities with the best boutique hotels.

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Paris

I love Paris, it oozes with class and style and I try to visit as much as I can, the last time I went, I stayed in a beautiful place called the Coq hotel. The hotel was one of the most affordable that I have found in Paris and the standard was brilliant. Whilst it is a hotel, it is also a members club that holds regular arty gatherings with craftspeople and also lots of wine tasting evenings, right up my street. The rooms are beautiful, mixtures of wood and brass, classic art and natural colors, a great boutique hotel.

Berlin

Boutique hotels really suit Berlin, a city with one of the coolest art scenes around and a city that should be on everyone’s list to visit. I stayed in a super cool hotel called the Oderberger, the location used to be public baths and the building is still the same, albeit with a far smarter interior. The hotel utilizes small features from its past life for things like coat hooks, stair rails and tiled walls. The rooms are full of Earth colors, wooden features and still has those beautiful wooden beams, a beautiful hotel in a brilliant city.

Zurich

I absolutely love Zurich, I’d like to get back there more often and I plan to this year, the city is beautiful and if you use a car rental service like I did then getting around is an absolute synch. I stayed in the Hotel Helmaus, a hotel that is very central with amazing service and incredibly cozy. The food here was delicious, and the rooms were small but super comfortable and beautifully designed, if you are heading to Zurich then I absolutely recommend this delightful hotel.

London

London is absolutely packed with boutique hotels, they range from classic beauty to underground, grungy style and everything in between, you can find all sorts of cool hotels here and I love to sample them. Most recently I stayed in the Haymarket Hotel, a hotel that is very close to the theatre scene in London so if you’re heading to a show then definitely check this place out. The hotel itself has a spa that offers all treatments, perfect when you want a break from the busy city. All of the rooms have flat screen TVs, i-Pod docks and are beautifully designed with floral furnishings and modern lay out, I really loved this hotel and the afternoon tea here was very British and very tasty!

How To Build An Outdoor Slatted Love Seat

If you want to give your garden a bit of livening up this year then furniture is the way forward, get rid of any tired looking plastic tableware and replace it with handmade items. There is something very rewarding about building something yourself, especially something that you can enjoy using after you’ve finished making it, such as a seat or in this case, a loveseat. These cool 2-person seats look great in the garden, they are simple in their design, super comfortable and straight forward to put together. If you want to make yourself a love seat for the garden then read on and follow our guide.

Things You’ll Need

  • Sanding Block
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Pine 2×4 Wood
  • Varnish or All-Weather treatment

For the wood, I like to use pine, it’s robust, inexpensive and has excellent durability, the sizings will all depend on how large you would like your loveseat to be based on how big your garden is, the dimensions given are just for the seat that I have built but feel free to alter them as you wish.

The Build

Once you have all materials ready, it is time to start, first with the seating area, I used 2 lengths of 2×4 at 50″ and for the width of the sofa I used 3, 25″ lengths, 2 for the outer seat and one for added strength in the centre using glue and nails to put each joint together. Once the seating area was finished, move onto the arms of the chair, you will be building 2 identical structures here so make sure your measurements are exact, the last thing you need is a wonky chair. The heights of the arms should sit around 15″ higher than the seat, so bear this in mind when measuring. Simply take 3 lengths and screw the armrest length onto the two pieces of wood that will be supporting the arm of the chair, once you have done this add a smaller length of ridged wood around halfway down, this is where the slats of the seat will be once finished.

Once you have these 3 frames completed it is time to attach them, using nails and glue attach both arms to the sides of the seating frame, constantly use your spirit level to make sure that you are keeping things straight. Allow the frame to set for a while before adding the slats to your loveseat, the slats should be slightly longer than the seat itself as they need to go under the arms and onto the ridges below. Once the frame has set you can start adding your slats, these can be easily nailed or screwed down. Finally you need some back support for your loveseat which can be done by using the same lengths of wood that you have used for the slats, place 3 of them across the back of the seat and you are all done. Last but not least, add some cushions and relax on your new home-built loveseat.

How To Build A Kick-Ass BBQ Pit In Your Backyard

When the sun is shining and you want to host a BBQ party, imagine that when the guests arrive they witness you, tending to your self-built flame throwing BBQ pit as you cook up some ribs for the masses. That dream can be a reality with just a little hard work, effort and with this quick guide for how to build a kick ass BBQ pit in your own backyard. Even if you don’t have construction experience, you can still complete this straight forward project with great results.

What You Will Need

Here’s the equipment you will need to have before you start;

  • Shovel
  • Spirit Level
  • 48 Bricks, same size (depending on space used and height)
  • Stainless Steel Grill, to measure
  • Concrete
  • Mallet
  • Sand
  • Large Metal Tray

Level of Difficulty

The build itself is not a highly difficult build, it is straight forward and as long as you keep measuring the level of your brickwork then anyone can do this. The job is pretty labor intensive, a lot of moving and carrying bricks can put strain on the back and on the legs so bear that in mind before starting and ask someone to help you if you are worried about the heavy lifting.

The Build

To start with we are going to build the outer walls of our BBQ pit, prepare the ground first by digging around 8 inches into the earth around your marked pit area, use some sand to put in the crevice and place your first bricks for your 3-sided outer. Continue to build the bricks up using your cement and ensuring to criss-cross the joining of the bricks for stability. Each time you have completed a layer, use your spirit level to check if it is straight, if it isn’t then concrete will still be wet enough to alter it a little. Once your wall has reached the sufficient level, usually just above your waistline then it is time to start on the inner part of our pit.

Follow the same process for the inner walls as you did for the outer area of our pit and slowly start to build up the brickwork of the interior. When you get around halfway up the outer wall it is time to place your metal tray, this will be where the fire will sit for your BBQ, there should be a greater distance between the floor and the fire than the BBQ grill itself and the fire so bear that in mind. To place the metal tray simply push it into the wet concrete on either side of the brick work. If you wish to be able to remove the tray for cleaning purposes then use 6 nails, 3 either side, and push them into the wet cement, once the cement dries you can simply move the metal tray as you like.

After this continue to build up the brickwork before placing the stainless steel grill, there should only be one layer of bricks above the grill to hold it in position and you should follow the same steps that you did with the metal tray to place the grill into the BBQ.

This of course is just the quickest and simplest way of creating a cool BBQ pit in your backyard, you can get far more creative or create bigger and better BBQ’s if you so wish, don’t be daunted, anyone can do it.

How To Build Your Own Motorhome

If you are looking to combine your love of DIY and travel then what better way to do it than by building your very own motorhome. This may sound like a daunting task at first but once you start the planning process you’ll see that if you keep things simple then you could be heading off on the open road in no time at all. This project is by no means simple and you will have to spend a lot of time both during the planning and the construction stages. Without further ado here is how you need to go about building your very own motorhome.

The Motor

First and foremost, you will need to buy the vehicle, the best thing to look out for here is a van with a good wheel base, similar to the ones that plumbers, construction workers and electricians use, these have plenty of space for you to play with, excellent stability and sufficient horsepower for carrying your home. Keep your eyes peeled at auctions and second hand traders for the best bargain and you should try to buy one that is no more than 6 years old.

Simplicity

When it comes to designing your home, simplicity is key, if you overcomplicate the build then it could leave you frustrated at not being able to get it finished, it could end up costing far more than you bargained for and it also allows more things to possibly go wrong. Measure your space in the back of the van and draw out a plan for the bed, the sink/kitchen area and any seating or cupboards that you wish to install.

Warmth

The first key to turning your van into a motorhome is insulating it and protecting it from the weather, to do this you need to do exactly the same as you would do in a house, prepare your frame for your false walls to sit in and use insulation behind each wall board. Once this is complete then you should look to seal any holes or crevices from the outside. Now that you have your walls in and your insulation sorted, you can begin to plan out the rest of your home.

Stability

It is important that whatever cabinets, attachments, beds or seats that you place in the rear of your motorhome are full stable, remember that you will be driving your motorhome on bumpy roads and round bends, the last thing you need is unstable furniture bouncing around. Fold away items are perfect to use in the back of the motorhome such as beds and seats, these can provide space when you need it and can pull out when it is time to sleep, if using these then ensure that they have excellent fixings that will keep them from opening out during your travels.

Water and Electric

If you are building your own motorhome then the best thing you can do is to buy an electric generator to power the sockets in the van, an electrician will be able to install wiring in your dry walls before you commence the rest of the build. For water and bathroom facilities, the sensible option is to forego these and stick to using campsites, you can make your own motorhome fully plumbed but the cost and the effort of doing so doesn’t prove worthwhile.

Family Travel Guide To San Francisco

San Francisco is a perfect city to travel to with your kids if you are looking for a family-friendly big city experience. Last year I took my little crew with me (husband, son 9 and daughter 7,) down to Frisco for a 4 day break, having deliberated over which city to go to for some days. We choose San Francisco as despite being a huge city it appeared to have a more outdoorsy vibe about it and we weren’t wrong. There is so much to do here for the whole family and here is a quick guide for you on what you can expect from San Francisco.

Accommodation

As with any big U.S. city there is numerous hotels and motels for you to stay in that offer rooms for the entire range of budgets that you may have. The question in San Fran isn’t which hotel to stay in, but where, we only had 4 days and didn’t want to spend them driving from location to location, a central hotel was necessary. We stayed in Presidio which is just a few miles away from the bay, it was a perfect location for our activities and an area surrounded by hiking trails and wooded areas with views of both the Bay and the famous Golden Gate Bridge, it was hard to believe we were still in the city.

Family Activities

There is an incredible array of things to do in San Francisco for families, many of which are absolutely free leaving you with more cash to spend on treats. Here is a list of free activities that you and the family can do in Frisco.

  • Asian art museum
  • San Francisco museum of modern art
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Exploratorium (An exciting view of science and wonder in a fully interactive center)
  • Wells Fargo history museum
  • Center for the Book (All things literary with a huge children’s learning center)
  • Golden Gate Park (Huge park with botanical areas, children’s playground and open spaces)
  • San Francisco Zoo ( Free entry, additional costs for tours and transport available)
  • Beaches and Parks

As you can see, having fun in this great city doesn’t have to cost the Earth and there is plenty of fun to be had for all the family.

Landmarks

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is without doubt one of the World’s most iconic landmarks, this 3 mile long and 1 mile wide suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate Strait and must be visited on a trip to San Francisco. You can cross the bridge by car, sail under it on a ferry or simply pull up beside it for a photo opportunity, there are also tours available that gives you all the important details about this landmark. Another icon in San Francisco is the famous Lombard Street which features a steep hill with 8 hairpin turns on it, the street as been popularized by many movies in which it has featured and if you have time then make sure you take a drive down this crazy road.

6 DIY Garden Ideas To Take Your Backyard To The Next level

If your home has a garden then you will no doubt be looking to make it look amazing so that you can spend some time there when the sun shines, unfortunately many of us simply don’t have the time or know-how to create a beautiful garden. The other problems that can arise is that you invest the time in creating something beautiful in your backyard but then scarcely have the time to maintain it. If you feel like you are in a situation such as this then don’t worry, here are 6 hacks for your garden that will take it to the next level.

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Fire-Pit

A fire-pit look fantastic in the backyard, simply clear some space for where you want to put your pit, lay down some sand, this can be any sand from play sand to sharp sand. For seating around the area of your fire-pit, cut logs look best, you can pick these up easily and they are generally inexpensive, with very little effort you now have a cool fire-pit for the next late night garden party that you have.

Glow in the Dark Paint

To save money on lighting in the garden and worrying about wires and sockets, use glow in the dark paint for a luminous garden solution. Paint large areas like plant pots with the paint and the effect it has is wonderful. This cheap and easy hack takes little time at all and has a huge impact on your garden.

Shoe-Rack Garden

For an awesome new garden feature and for easy to manage plants, consider buying a hanging shoe rack, these can be found easily in home stores. Once you have the shoe rack simply hang it from the shed or the fence, add compost into each of the compartments and plant whatever you like, these look great with herbs or bright flowers. Easy to look after and they look fab.

Mirrors

Placing mirrors in your garden give the appearance that your garden is larger than it is and they look brilliant when reflecting sunlight or flowerbeds in your garden. Antique mirrors look especially good in the garden but whatever you choose, you should be careful with the frames, make sure that they are treated with weatherproof coatings before placing them in the garden.

Re-Up Some Tires

Using old car tires are a great and funky solution to plant pots in the garden, you can pick them up for very little money and all you need to do is give them a lick of paint before placing in the garden or backyard. Tires look brilliant when you stack them on top of each other especially if you’ve painted them different colors. The beauty of using tires isn’t just the visual effect but also that they plants inside are very easy to maintain.

Antiques

Old items look fantastic in the garden whether it is an old bicycle, copper kettles, jugs, plates or coat racks, there is something about rusty metal that works well in a garden and you should look at picking up some items like this for your backyard. You can get these sorts of things from charity shops or flea markets and they will be sure to add some vintage beauty to your garden.

How To Get Your Children Interested In DIY

Getting children interested in DIY can give both you and your children endless hours of fun as you start new projects and create things from scratch for the home. Your job when it comes to DIY is to make it exciting for the kids and to stop them from thinking that it is some form of chore. There are several ways that you can get your children to show an interest in DIY and here are some tips on how to spark their imagination.

Start a Project

The best way to get your kids involved in DIY is to simply get started and get them involved, the key here is that they choose the project, give them four or five options and let them decide what they would like to create. Make sure the project is to make something that will benefit them, something for their room, a toy or even a figure of their favorite princess or action hero. By choosing something that will benefit your child then they are more likely to buy into the project and feel excited about it.

Toy Replacement

If there is a particular toy or toy series that they are interested in right now then instead of heading out to the shops to buy what they want, consider making them. I can remember years ago when there was a huge demand for Tracey Island, the headquarters of the Thunderbirds, stock was limited and then all of a sudden a TV program showed every one how they could make their own and before we knew it every had made their very own Tracey Island. Such is the way of the internet these days you can find a guide for almost anything so once you’ve decided on the toy that you’re going to make, check online to see if there is a step-by-step guide to help you.

Treat

Whilst you are trying to get your child involved with DIY, it is important that you still offer them treats every now and again for their hard work, this will encourage them to continue doing it before deciding whether they like it or not. Remember that when you do DIY projects at home, you are saving money by not having to pay someone to do work for you so you can spend a little of the money that you’ve saved on your budding DIY expert.

Excitement

It is absolutely vital that when teaching your child DIY skills that you keep it exciting, the last thing you or your child needs is to be arguing or fighting as a result of doing a boring part of the job. It is up to you to keep the fun going, be silly, tell jokes or whatever it takes to keep things light hearted and fun, naturally there will be times when you need to be serious, when it comes to safety advice and so on but in general you need to keep the fun going whilst teaching your kids.

Cheap And Hassle-Free Guide To Making A Built In Corner Bookshelf

When it comes to maximizing space in the home you need to think creatively and search for additional ways to create space that doesn’t appear to be there. One of the best ways of doing this is to utilize the corners of rooms and also the height of the room, very often people place small items in the corner which looses all of the space that the corner has to offer. On of my favorite ways to make use of this space is to make a bookshelf to sit in the corner of the room, when done right it doesn’t look it uses any space at all and actually becomes a part of the room as opposed to an object inside it. If you fancy installing a corner bookshelf then don’t panic about paying big bucks from a furniture store, simply follow this simple guide to help you make and install your own.

Measuring

To create your bookshelf you first need to decide how large it is going to be, make sure that this is proportional to the size of the room, the bookshelf should take up about a third of each wall for it to look the best. The bookshelf looks best if it goes right the way up to the ceiling, leave a gap of around 5 inches from the ceiling when measuring. Once you have measured for the outer frame, you can measure for the shelves that you want, the amount is entirely up to you but you should aim for the distance between each shelf to be the same for the best results.

Equipment

Once you’ve measured for your bookshelf it is time to get the equipment, for the cheapest but best wood, you should be looking to buy MDF, it is very flexible and has great value. Most DIY stores will cut the wood to size if you give them the measurements, this will save you money on buying or renting equipment like saws. Other equipment that you will need are;

  • Nails
  • Nail gun
  • Sanding block
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level

The Build

To start off the build you should place lengths of wood on each wall at both the top of where you frame will go, and the bottom, this is how you will attach the bookshelf to the wall. Next you should nail the outer frame to the lengths of wood that are on the wall, use your spirit level to ensure they are straight. Once you have the outer frame completed, you should start getting the shelves ready, the easiest way of placing the shelves is to put small lengths of wood, the same length as the shelves, below where each shelf will go, use a pencil to measure the distances. Once you have this in place you can start placing the shelves on the wooden slats, you don’t need to nail the shelves down, they will be fine just sitting on the slats. One of the sides should have longer shelves than the other, this will ensure that the corner has full coverage, if your shelves are too snug or don’t fit properly then simply use a sanding block to trim them down a touch.

Decorate

If you wish to paint the bookshelf then do this before starting and allow plenty of time to dry, the same goes for adding any designs on the sides. Once your bookshelf is ready then you can start adding the books or items that you wish to put on your shelves. Remember that if the shelves are empty then you will lose the effect so if you don’t have sufficient books then place ornaments or photos on the shelves to fill them up.

4 DIY Kitchen Decorating Ideas On A Budget

Decorating alone can be a tricky business, when the time arrives that you want to re-up a part of your home after looking the same for years there is a great deal to consider. Sadly, one such factor that outweighs all others is money, a simple decoration job can cost the Earth if you so wish but many of us simply don’t have the funds to throw at our home. If you find yourself in this bracket then don’t worry as it is possible to redecorate on a budget, often with beautiful results. We want to share with you today 4 great ideas for how you can give your kitchen a little makeover for very little expense and here they are.

Paint Cabinets

Replacing cabinets can be one of the most costly parts of redecorating your kitchen, if your cabinets are in need of a change then instead of replacing them, you can simply paint them. Painting your cabinets not only give you a quick fix that has a huge impact but it is also far more cost effective and will save you the time of searching DIY stores for your next kitchen cabinets, something that is rarely easy and never fun to do.

Stick-on Tiles

Adding a tiled section to your kitchen can have a really beautiful impact, depending on the layout of your kitchen you could add tiles behind the sink area, around the sides of the kitchen below the cabinets or even full wall tiling. Glossy tiles look the best as they give the kitchen a mirrored effect which helps to make it look larger. Tiles can be expensive, so can the accessories to put them on the wall once you start adding the cost of grout and spacers. To avoid these costs look for stick on tiles, they are large sheets of tiled paper that simply sticks onto the wall and gives the exact same effect as tiles, you would literally never know. Stick on tiles are the perfect solution for adding tiling it your kitchen, easy to add and cheap to buy.

Up-Cycled Chairs

The craze of up-cycling is helping both the planet and people’s creativity as they seek to add something original to their home. The method of up cycling is to buy something old, in this case chairs, from your local charity store,  once you buy them, strip them down to their bare material and get creative. This is a great cost-effective way of adding some funky new chairs to your kitchen table and will give the kitchen an original design.

Make Use of Jars

We all have empty jars, whether they be from jams, sauces, fruits or pickled onions, usually when the jars are finished we throw them out, don’t do this as they can really work for you in the kitchen. Once finished, give the jars a rinse and then use them for a huge range of storage solutions. You can label the jars and use them for herbs and spices, alternatively you can place them on your kitchen table with flowers in, anything you like. The beauty of using jars in the kitchen is that the light reflects off them giving a great look, this can not only be a storage solution saver but also add a char to your redecorated kitchen.