Saturday, 20 May 2017

plans for a super cheap garden makeover



Our garden is pretty crap. Yes, we're delighted to have it and it's a decent size, but our whole estate is built on a flood plain, and on top of that our soil is full of the usual builders detritus that seems to get dumped in the gardens of all estate houses, so our drainage is non-existent and the soil we do have is almost clay it's so wet and clumpy. 


So, it's not easy to have a pretty garden here. For most of the year our grass is completely waterlogged and even normal rain results in flooding at the bottom. So, I think in an effort to combat this and create some areas that were immune to this waterlogging, the previous owners put in slightly raised beds at the bottom and left hand side of the garden, and an area of concrete covered in gravel on the right.

We've stolen lots of plants from my MIL's garden and bought many more and the beds are finally starting to fill in a bit and there's a bit of colour out there now, but the gravel area is a problem. Sure, it looks nice and it's tidy, but practically it's pretty pointless. The problem is that the gravel is pretty deep, and while this is great for playing diggers, it's not so great for walking on. Also, and I'm only sharing this because I believe in showing you guys the reality and I feel like this is a safe place......the right hand side of our garden currently looks like this.....


*screams internally*

Yep, that's a giant pile of rubbish that not only hasn't been shifted since we got the kitchen tiles done but has actually grown as we clear stuff out of the house and throw them out there waiting to go to the recycling centre. You also have a large collection of plastic vehicles that Max likes to line up and wash here, various dead plants in pots plus some pallets I've been meaning to find a use for for over a year and a new fence panel that sticks out like a sore thumb. Pretty, isn't it?

So, what to do? It's been pretty much unused since we moved in nearly three years ago, and I suppose we were thinking that eventually we'd install some sort of paving or decking over it and make a usable seating area (and also somewhere where the kids could play outside when the grass was a swamp) but that's not going to happen this year. So we leave it until then I guess? But then, we actually had a week of beautiful weather recently, and as I sat at my tiny bistro set by the back door, perched on an uncomfortable chair trying to enjoy my coffee in the sunshine I thought "ENOUGH"! I have all this space available, why not just make it usable as cheaply as possible for now, and worry about doing a permanent job later?

So that's what I'm doing. I want a comfy seating area where we can all hang out in the unlikely event that we actually get a nice summer. I'm thinking pallets, cheap plastic furniture and fairy lights. Magical! The budget for this is non-existant so I'll be using things I have already and sourcing stuff from euro stores and second hand shops. I'm actually excited by the challenge! We'll be getting going clearing the rubbish this weekend, and I've already picked up a few bits and pieces to prettify the area, so watch this space!

And yes, I did try to get better pictures of everything out here, but I was foiled by a small naked entymologist who managed to get himself into nearly every photo asking me what I was doing and trying to show me the very interesting woodlice he had just captured. I don't know why he was naked, but it's not unusual around here.




                             
                                 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Saturday, 13 May 2017

removing and replacing a contact paper countertop

removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top



If you've been following my blog for a while you'll probably know that I covered my old kitchen counters in d-c fix contact paper about eighteen months ago. It's still by far one of my most popular posts and I constantly get questions about it's durability and whether I'm still happy with it, and the answer was always a resounding YES! Honestly, in the eighteen months it was in place it took a lot of abuse, I mean, as far as I was concerned it was an interim measure and I really did absolutely nothing to try and protect it. Water was spilled on it (and left to sit), hot things were placed on it, my "coffee station" which is basically a little tray on pointy legs was dragged across it repeatedly, and yet....nothing. It held up to everything I could throw at it with no lifting, scratching or bubbling. In fact, the only tiny piece of damage it showed was from when my husband dropped superglue on it and tried to scratch it off with a knife, and even that was minimal!



So, the time finally came to replace our kitchen tiles, and as the chipping off of the backsplash lifted the edges of the contact paper it was time to remove it. All along I had thought that this would be the perfect time to replace our counters as well, but when it came to it....well, I was totally happy with the contact paper, so why change it? I mean, a brand new shiny solid wood counter would be lovely, but was I willing to spend nearly a grand on it when I had such a fantastic alternative? No sir, no I was not.

So I contacted the lovely people at d-c fix (they had gotten in touch last year offering to supply me with more paper if I ever had a suitable project) and I got them to send me a roll of their grey marble paper. I was absolutely delighted to discover that they do many patterns in a wider roll now, which meant I could cover my counters horizontally rather than vertically, meaning way less join points and consequently a much more seamless finish.

removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top


I had loved the more dramatic black vein through the paper I had previously, but I'm liking the more pared back feeling I've got in the kitchen now with the light grey floor and white subway tile backsplash, so I thought a lighter pattern would really compliment that. I definitely wanted to stick with the marble pattern, mostly because I love it, but also because I think the pattern really helps hide any joins in the paper and gives it that seamless look.

So first, we had the fun job of removing the old paper, and after all the questions I've gotten about whether it really doesn't do any damage I was eager to see just how this would go. I gathered my crack demolition team and set to work....


removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top


It was really stuck on there! But once you get it moving it came off easily. We didn't have to use any scrapers or tools and it took about twenty minutes to uncover the whole thing. The d-c fix website does suggest you blast it with a hairdryer to aid removal but I didn't feel like we needed to do that.


removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top


And just to clear up any "will it damage what's underneath" questions, may I present to you a photo of some paint splashes that I was too lazy to remove before I covered the counter. As you can see they are completely unharmed after removing the paper....and I was able to scrape these off with a knife in seconds afterwards! So honestly I couldn't see this stuff doing any damage to any surface. And there was absolutely zero adhesive left behind anywhere either. I don't know how this stuff sticks, but it didn't leave so much as a residue that needed to be wiped. 


removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top

removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top
Not a terrible counter by any means, but it still had to go!

The process of applying the new paper was exactly the same as before, and you can find the tutorial here. I cut the pieces to size, peeled back a small section of the backing at a time and started to stick the paper down, smoothing out bubbles as I went with a credit card. If you find any when you're finished you can poke a tiny hole in it with a pin and remove the air that way, but getting it right while you are doing it is really preferable. The paper can be lifted and re-done many times so don't worry if you get a lot of bubbles at any point, just peel the paper up past that point and lay it back down, being more careful to work the air out as you go.

I left a small edge where the paper met the wall/any edges, and went back over that with a craft knife at the end, trimming off the excess. As the roll was so wide this time, technically I could have done the whole thing in two pieces, and I did try, but I found it much too difficult to get a good finish around the cooker and sink this way, so I ended up using more than one piece for each counter, but I still ended up with a hell of a lot less in the way of joins than I did the last time I did this.

And that was that, two hours after I started I had brand new marble counters once more, and I'm loving them! I think the lighter colour really compliments the light grey in the floor now, and I' sure I'll be happy with them for the next two years at least!


removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top

removing and replacing a contact paper self adhesive vinyl counter top



If you liked this you might also like:




Saturday, 6 May 2017

10 parenting tips I feel qualified to give



So I'm pregnant. Which means I'll soon have three kids. And yes, they're all alive, occasionally well behaved and even potty trained! I do let them eat things off the floor and run around naked whenever they feel like it though so I usually don't get asked for advice, but sometimes....sometimes a poor soul will catch me on a good day, a day when no-one is crying, flouting public decency laws, or tag-teaming my hugely pregnant, vulnerable self into letting them eat an entire bag of Haribo in one go if they will "JUST SHUT UP FOR 5 SECONDS!!!!" and foolishly ask for advice. When this happens I feel like Gwyneth Palthrow for a minute, all smug and knowing, ready to dole out patronising advice that I can't even follow myself, but then I just try and remember that there are often days that Youtube Kids does more of my parenting than I do and I get a hold of myself.`

But still, I think there might be something I can share with the world. So here it is, the parenting advice I feel I can give without being a total hypocrite....

Monday, 24 April 2017

my new kitchen tiles!!!!

neutral kitchen tile


Yes, finally, the new kitchen tiles are in! They've been in for a few weeks actually but I've been too busy enjoying them to blog about it. That and the fact that it's never been clean enough to take photos #reallife

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

amazing lighting for under €150




If you follow me on Instagram (and why wouldn't you? everyone loves pics of things I want to buy interspersed with the occasional "fml" post showing my kids destroying my house right? It's @makedoanddiy by the way) you might have seen the gorgeous new pendant light currently bringing a bit of glamour to my kitchen. 

Gorgeous isn't it?! I'm really in love with it, and get this...it was €52!!!! Yep, that's correct, absolute bargain. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

a fireplace refresh



If you've been following me for a while you might remember how I posted about painting my fireplace last year? Well, I've done it again. Or I did, before Christmas! This baby is sucking the life force right out of me, I swear to god.

So yes, I love having a splash of intense colour in the living room and the fireplace is such a quick and easy thing to paint that it can be done on a whim. And a whim it was! Just before I out up our Christmas decorations I thought "a nice dark green would look great with all the gold that's going to go up in here", so I grabbed the tester pot of I had (that I've already used all over the house, those Valspar testers are value for money!) and I gave it a coat. One coat. It's a bit patchy but I don't think anyone noticed!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

new kitchen tile...it's happening




It's happening. The eyeball-assaulting tile is no more.

It's taken two weeks so far. Two weeks of cement dust, having our fridge in the hall and having to put a bloody bra on every day inside my own damn house while we have guys working on it but it will be worth it!






I must admit I'm a bit pissed off at how long it's taking. I thought it'd be a day of removing the old tile, then a day or two to lay the new ones and stick the new skirting on, and in total that is all it will add up to....if the goddamn builders would stick around for more than an hour at a time to finish the damn thing!!! Now, they assure me that it's because they can only do a section at a time as they have to let the adhesive dry before standing on it, but I'm calling bullshit on that. Other jobs is what's stopping them spending a full day here. The boom is on it's way back guys, mark my words!

We currently have a finished floor, but the backsplash is still in bits and the skirting is still missing with no set day for it to be finished so I may kill somebody yet. The guys seem to have realised this as they've switched to calling Gavin. Smart move.

Note to builders: I have zero time for your shit right now. Zero time. And if you keep looking at me like I'm crazy for the things I'm asking for or make one more decision without actually asking me first I'm going to vent my pregnant lady super-rage all over you. 

So it's not exactly the quick makeover I thought I'd get by actually paying someone else to do it, but it is happening, and I know it'll be great when it's finished. It's already a million times better.




So what did we pick? If you read my previous post about choosing flooring for in here you'll know that I really, really wanted a wood floor in here, and I had brought home a lot of samples before settling on a lovely dark-toned matte wood effect laminate. However, this decision was based on the assumption that we would be re-doing the entire ground floor, not just the kitchen and utility. You see, we currently have a solid wood floor in the living room and hall, and while it isn't the colour I would choose that's fix-able, but we were told that the gaps that have opened up between some of the boards weren't. We were basically told that there wasn't anything that could be done with these gaps, and they really bother me because a LOT of dirt gets trapped in them, and some of them are huge!!!! So we thought the whole thing had to go, and we were planning to replace it all with a nice, affordable laminate. Not my dream floor of course, but we don't plan on being in this house forever so we couldn't justify the expense of a better wood floor, even if we could afford it. 

So we were all ready to go, believing our builder, when I thought, "you know what? I'll just quickly google how to diy fix a wood floor". Spoiler alert, it can be done folks, and easily. So obviously we weren't then going to chuck out a great quality floor to replace it with a pretty crappy one, and consequently I couldn't put laminate in the kitchen, cos it wouldn't match. So the decision was effectively made for me, tile it was!

And after many visits to all the tile emporiums Limerick has to offer I realised that they were all very expensive and I am basically poor. Thankfully I finally found "World of Tiles" and they had a really good selection in my price range. (not an ad or anything by the way, just my genuine experience) I chose a nice rectangular, cement-y looking tile called "Phoenix Gris" and got a light grey grout to match. I'm really happy with it, and I can't wait to show you the finished product....if I don't murder the lads installing it before it ever gets to that stage.








Thursday, 23 February 2017

plans for a fixer-upper



Some of you might already know this, but I've been writing for a local paper here in Limerick for the past 9 months. I share my old projects in the home section and I've really loved it! Recently though the editor approached me with a really interesting proposition...would I be interested in viewing a "fixer-upper" house currently for sale and give my opinion on what could be done with it? And as it involved two of my most favourite pastimes (being nosy and telling people what to do) of course I said yes!

So, it's a bit different from my usual style as it was written for a completely different audience, but I thought I'd share it here anyway. If any of you are in the process of looking for your first home it might encourage you to give the ones that need some work a chance!

Friday, 3 February 2017

what a to-do






It's already February and I'm only just getting around to putting together a to-do list for the year, that bodes well!

So, it's a new year, there's a bit more money coming in, and we have an energy-sucking, time-consuming little bundle of hard work arriving in July so our time to get shit done is limited! With that in mind, these are the jobs I would love to get done before that happens....

Friday, 20 January 2017

new years resolutions...and an announcement!

Happy new year people! It may be a bit late, but I put together a list of a few of the resolutions I've made to myself this year.


1- Put a lock on the bathroom door-I'm tired of having to referee fights and answer urgent questions about which shopkin is my favourite while in the middle of doing my business.


2- Spend less time searching for the source of vague, but disgusting smells. (It's usually on me. It's usually poo.)

3- Stop murdering plants! 

4- Spend less time arguing with people who think calling me a "poo head" is a witty retort.

5- Related: Never again resort to using "I know you are, but what am I?" when faced with the aforementioned "poo-head". I'm 33. And I have a degree. In English. 

6- Actually be dressed for montessorri drop off at least 4 days out of 5, my current go-to of zipping a long coat over the leggings and top I slept in is not cutting it.


7- Maybe occasionally finish a project? That might be asking too much though!

8- And mostly, stop letting this guy talk me into lying on the couch all night when there's blogging I promised myself I would do....




01