Category Archives: Make it yourself

Emergency Sledge

If you find yourself in the disturbing position of having no sledge on a snowy slope (10/- to anyone who can say that after a bottle of  the Wartime Housewife’s Sloe Gin) you will need the following:-

Utensils:
1 x large piece of thick cardboard – 2 if you have them
1 large thick bin liner with handles
1 x snowy slope

Method:
Place the large piece of cardboard into the sack, trimming to fit if necessary
Place your bottom on the bin liner, grasping the handles firmly
Hurl yourself down the slope

The Wartime Housewife takes no responsibility for anyone who recklessly hurls themselves into the path of oncoming vehicles, livestock, the waste products of livestock, or barbed-wire fences.

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Filed under Children, General DIY, Leisure, Make it yourself, Outdoor Activities, Re-use Recycle

How to make an Interesting Table Lamp for about £6

After  my last tirade, I think it’s about time we did something lovely with beads and ribbon.

The Wartime Housewife has a bit of a taste for the Victorian, but she does like shiny things.  I detest harsh lighting, so tend to have lots of table lamps dotted about so that the light can be both subtle and adaptable to one’s activities.  But table lamps are often very expensive and even plain shades are rarely less than £7 or £8. 

My first port of call whenever I need anything new in the household department is the local tip.  Many council tips now have a shop where one can buy all sorts of useful things that often just need a good scrub down or a coat of paint and are very reasonably priced.  Charity shops don’t sell electricals so leave those out, but car boot sales and jumble sales are full of treasures.  I found the lamp (incl the shade)  featured in this article at a local antique/collectable shop for £2.50.  It should have been £3 but naturally I haggled.  Always haggle – you’ve nothing to lose.

Plain shadeLamps are so hard to photograph so I’ll describe it.  It has a marble base, a crystal stem and a plain shade.  I have decorated several lamps before using crystal drops and mirrored ribbon and I had just the corner to put it in. 

I bought the ribbon with crystal drops and the mirrored ribbon from a haberdashery stall at the market for about £2.00/metre each.  A good haberdasher is a wonderful thing and it’s worth wandering round these  and other craft shops just to see what they hRibbonsave in stock and one can get so many ideas just from seeing what’s available.  I like bold, sparkly things but you may like something more subtle, so look around and see what there is.  Measure your lampshade circumference top and bottom and then get half a metre more than you actually need, just in case.  Any spare will always come in useful for other projects.

Glue gunThe next essential is a hot glue gun.  These are available from all good craft shops and I would recommend getting a small one which is light in your hand and can do finer work.  Mine cost about £5 and the replacement glue sticks are around £2.25.  The glue sets very quickly so you can attach things to each other without having to stand there like Soft Ned while everything sets.  Take some time to practice with it first on scraps of fabric or card until you get the hang of it.  You do get tiny strands of glue hanging about but these pull of easily when you’ve finished.  Do remember that this is a HOT GLUE gun and be careful as the glue will be unsurprisingly hot.

Ist layer - beaded ribbon

Ist layer - beaded ribbon

Firstly, lay out your beaded ribbon, right side up.  Starting at the seam of the shade, apply two thin parallel lines of hot glue, the width of the ribbon, to the base of the shade  about 2″ (5cm) at a time.  Apply the ribbon immediately and do another strip.  I would recommend NOT cutting the ribbon to the circumference of the shade as you will waste less this way. Work you way along the base of the shade, pressing the ribbon down firmly, until you come back to the seam.  Cut the ribbon neatly, allowing a small overlap.

2nd layer - mirrored ribbon

2nd layer - mirrored ribbon

Then do the same with the mirrored ribbon, making sure you cover the ribbon neatly underneath.  Pull off any tiny strands of glue.  You could try layering the beaded ribbon to create a cascade effect or even using two colours which would look very dramatic. 

And that’s it, and it took about half an hour.  As I say, lamps are difficult to photograph, especially at 11.30 at night when my eyes feel like they’ve been sandpapered, but it really does
look very effective.Finished lamp
Switch off the television and do something creative instead, it’s incredibly satisfying.  Put your own stamp on things; it doesn’t have to be perfect and it’ll be a heck of a lot more interesting than some homogenous lump of plastic from Ikea.

Green version

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Filed under Decorative, fashion, Household Hints, Make it yourself, Tips, Skips and Scavenging

Growing Plants from Seeds – much cheaper than buying plants

Seed trays 08.09.09There are few things more cheering and pleasant than the sight of flowers in your garden or around the house.  Stocking your garden with plants can be very costly but there are lots of ways to obtain plants, pots and ornamental objects for very little money.  I am something of a novice in the garden, so we can have the joy of learning (and falling flat on our faces) together.  I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are really good at this gardening lark and I’m never afraid to ask questions.

The first step is to have a plan, as a bit of forward thinking gives you time to gather materials and scout around for interesting things.  At this time of year you need to be planning for the Spring and making notes about which type of plants you want to grow and how you can get your mucky paws on them.  Get some books out of the library, draw some plans in a notebook. And don’t feel restrained by conventional ornaments and containers.  Look in skips and go to the tip – make yours the most original garden in the street.

Now go to your garden centre or supermarket and see what seeds they have on sale; the back of the packet will tell you when they can be planted, but I am very much an experimenter.  A reasonable rule of thumb is that if it’s in the garden centre, it’s the right time of year for it.  Back in July I planted trays and trays of seeds, about half of which were washed away or drowned by the positively diluvian weather we all experienced at the time. (Although when the rain stopped I did find a pair of giraffes and a two rather bedraggled cockatoos lurking in my privet).

I let the trays dry out and have been astonished to find that more seeds than I expected have recovered and started to sprout.  But the new problem is that the weather has now turned and is not particularly conducive to bringing on seedlings.

Again, a trip to the garden centre was most profitable as they have their seasonal sales like everyone else.  I came home with a small, 3-shelf plastic greenhouse for £9.00, which, if the worst comes to the worst, can be brought indoors; two trays of fuschias for £1 which I’m going to experiment with putting inside and outside the house as I have no idea whether they are hardy; a tray of pansies for £2.00, 30 small plastic pots for £1.12 and a big bag of end of stock compost for £1.50.  I also bought all the plants for my hanging baskets last month from a sale at the market  (9 plants for £9) and they were as bonny as anything.  I could have done with an extra plant in each basket, but I’ll know for next year.

Regular followers of the Wartime Housewife will remember my scavenging expedition to the municipal tip back in July where I found hanging baskets and pots galore for next to nothing and these are really coming into their own now as I am potting up seedlings left, right and centre.  I’m going to start some more to replace the ones I lost in the rain, despite the time of year, but at between 99p-£1.50 for a packet of seeds, one can afford to experiment. I have been reliably informed by the Aged Parent that garden centres often have dump bins where you can place unwanted pots for recycling.  Recycled straight into my garden as it happens.  Always re-use before you recycle.

Just a little aesthetic extra; I use old saucers under my pots in the house.  Bric-a-brac stalls, antique stalls and car boot sales will often have loads of assorted china and saucers that cost pence, look lovely and are perfect for small pots. Try planting in mugs or cups and saucers as well.

Another way of obtaining cheap plants, is to do a Seed Swap.  Tomorrow evening our local Garden Society is holding a Seed Swap at the village hall but you can buy seeds and seedlings if you don’t have any to swap.  If you don’t have a garden soc., go to your friends and neighbours and suggest it to them – it could also be a lovely way to encourage a bit of community spirit.  Get that kettle on! Take cuttings, plant seeds, cover your windowsills with pots and see what happens. Oh and don’t forget the biscuits.

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Filed under Make it yourself, Plants, The Garden, Tips, Skips and Scavenging

Sorting Out the Garden

In which The Wartime Housewife Pots - 26.7.09explains the cheap way
of clearing weeds with old carpet and growing plants from seed.

We have recently moved into a little cottage, tucked away behind the church in a small village near Market Harborough.  As you know, moving is a horrid business and it takes some time to get everything straight in the house and garden.

The garden is rather small and contains nothing but weeds, and it’s going to take some time and planning to make it a place for me and The Boys to enjoy.  So having consulted many garden books (your local library may well have a super range of gardening books to help you) I decided to clear the weeds and plant some seeds ready for next Spring.  This need not be a costly business.

I bought some very cheap seed trays and seeds from Wilkinson’s to get me started and planted them with the flowers I would need in the Spring.  But these seeds will need potting on and I don’t want to spend money on pots, so my next trip was down to the local tip where I found a huge lot of pots, both plastic and terracotta.  I also found some elderly hanging baskets which, after a little attention, will be perfect.  I came home with nearly 50 assorted pots and three hanging baskets for £3.  Incidentally, old cut up jumpers lined with plastic bags with a few tiny holes in make super liners for baskets.

My next problem was how to clear the weeds ready to re-structure the garden in the Spring.  There is a very simple, if unconventional, way to do this.  Carpet.  Cut down the bigger weeds  and then start inspecting all the skips one increasingly sees at the side of the road.  Many contain large pieces of old carpet which can be laid on the ground, depriving the weeds of light and air.  Always ask permission of the skip-ee out of courtesy, although they will probably be delighted to free up some space in their expensive skip!  In the winter, the carpet should be removed and the soil dug over ready for planting and landscaping.

I will let you know how I get on!

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Filed under Make it yourself, Plants, The Garden, Tips, Skips and Scavenging