Sunday, 30 September 2012

More Ercol loveliness - how I 'saved' £1419

Do you remember my excitement when I found these Ercol chairs at a jumble sale for £8?

Well ever since one of my fave 'passing the time' activities has been searching for a couple more to complete the set.  A family of five sharing four chairs was beginning to lose its charm.  I considered getting chapel chairs, something modern, or an Ercol bench but nothing fitted the budget.

By a chance conversation I mentioned it to a friend who is a frequent visitor of our local auction rooms.  He promised to let me know if he ever saw some matches to our Ercol chiltern chairs.  Ideally I wanted another two.  Now remember the new version of these are £199 each (a price hike from £178 from last year - they must be popular).  So to just get another 2 matches could have set me back £398!

Well last weekend, not long after I'd mentioned the chairs to my friend the call came!  There were four in the next days auction and they looked to be in good condition! Yikes, I'd never done real life auctioning before and didn't know how it all worked, and if I'd be able to contain my excitement.

The Queen of Clean and I examined our budget and set a limit of £100 for the four, although upon discussion with my lovely generous mother she told me to go to £150 and she'd put in the extra.  Bless her.  The next morning came and I went down to register and see the chairs in the flesh.  They were perfect but I tried to act nonchalant in case anyone else sensed my excitement and became competition!

Here's my auction card, you need one of these before you place a bid and it ties you to any 'lots' you have won.  See, I've got the auction 'lingo' under my belt now.

I was a desperate lady in that auction room.  I knew I wouldn't leave without those beauties and when my turn came up I thrust my hand in the air defiantly and just left it there.  There was a very disappointed old lady in front of me but nothing was going to get between me and those Ercols.

I got them in the end for £140 after much adrenalin.  I also needed to pay a buyers premium of 15% making the total £165.  So a saving of £631 on four new chairs.  However if we take it a step further...eight new Chiltern Ercols from John Lewis would be £1592, and I have spent in total £173 therefore saving £1419.

Just look at all that criss cross loveliness.  We now have 6 around the table and another 2 nearby 'just in case'.

And in case you weren't fixated by the chairs and wondered what was on the table, here we are some spray painted yellow pine cones of course.  And a little stone bird on my jumble sale wicker placemats.

And because she was in the room at the same time as I took these shots, my cat Martha.  Who I think it must be said has excellent posture.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Lost 'Art'

Sometimes when I watch my kids create something I'm a little sad.

Because I feel somehow I have lost that ability to just sit down with a blank canvas and paint a 'Blitz' canvas from my imagination.  Complete with St Pauls Cathedral.

I think I lost the creativity when I acquired the weekly online shop and organising 3 childrens PE kits.  It just kind of evaporated.  I did sit down with Yoyo when she did this and attempted to do something of my own, but soon gave up and photographed her instead.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Blackboard messages

We have this blackboard by the front door - meant for last minute reminders but rarely used for that purpose.  Boring stuff like 'swimming kit' sit on there for months (ignored).

I thought I'd update it with a little bit of positivity for my gang before they leave the house......with this Oscar Wilde quote.  So true.

And so 3 days on my family have yet to notice it but it is making me feel tremendous each morning ;-)

Oh.....and on a thrifty note this blackboard used to be an Ikea easel that the kids grew out of that we sawed the frame off.  Upcycling and all that.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Budget bathroom makeover - the after (about time too!)

Everyone loves a before and after don't they?  So thought I'd relive the shame of the before picture (still can't get over that loo roll in the middle of the floor - oh the horror!)

So here is the 'after', sorry about the delay.  We had kind of finished this a couple of months back but still needed a few touches like regrouting the floor tiles.  So before I show you more detail, I wanted to remind you this is a budget makeover and I'll put a full break down of our sources and costs at the bottom of how we fared!

To save money we kept the cast iron bath (which we couldn't figure out how to get out of the house anyway!) It scrubbed up well with some Cif and elbow grease (courtesy of The Queen of Clean)

We also designed it so there was a continual tiled shelf along the back which also served to box all that nasty pipework in.

We treated ourselves to a new toilet and sink.  I was desperate for something square and chunky and I spent literally ages searching for these as anything modern seemed hugely expensive.  Good old Ikea and Wickes came to the rescue for these at a reasonable price (£120 for the toilet and £49 for the sink). We also bought the cupboard that went underneath the sink for storage.  Probably sounds silly but it was a financial breakthrough for me that I realised I didn't have to buy everything from the same place!!

The theme, if you can call it that, is white with flashes of fuchsia pink.  I already had this little picture from my Mum (it was a birthday card a couple of years back) and it seemed fitting.  The orchid does have bright pink flowers on when in flower!

The towels tie in too - I have several in pink and lime green, and these stripey beauties from Primark (just £3 each!!)  We have used these towels regularly for about 4 months now and they are good as new - can highly recommend.

A nice extra to the sink was this little soap dish and metal tray.   You can see them better in the product shot below.  They 'sealed the deal' for me and are really useful as an extra place to keep toothbrushes etc.  The mirror with etched flower detail is also from Ikea.

This shot shows the tiled side of the bath (no longer an empty space hurrah!!).  We considered a bath panel but it just seemed cheaper to tile it.  It easily comes off as a separate piece if we need to get behind it.  The little green cork topped stool belonged to my Grandmother.  The bathmat I already had.

There were no labour costs for this project - it was all undertaken by The Queen of Clean over many, many weekends.

So in summary our budget breakdown:-


  • £120 Toilet (Fresno by Wickes)        
  • £49 Sink (Ikea)                                  
  • £30 Storage Unit under sink (Ikea)     
  • £15 Mirror (Ikea)   
  • £135 Wall Tiles (design is Metro widely available although cannot recall supplier)                   
  • £47 Floor Tiles (Wickes)                                                                                                                 
  • £150 Taps (Bristan but hugely embarrassed we cannot recall supplier!)                                        
  • £35 Towel rail and toilet roll holder                                                                                                 
  • £6 2 x new striped towels (Primark)                                                                                                
  • 50p Soap dispenser (Car Boot Sale)                                                                                                 
  • Artwork and plant (already owned)                                                                                         
  • Endless enthusiasm and patience (Free!)
Grand Total  =   £587.50

Okay, so we went over budget.  But considering during my research some items alone e.g taps or sinks cost over £500 I am pretty pleased with what we've achieved.  We had put off tackling this room thinking it had to cost £1000's to sort out a bathroom so horrific, but it is clean and functional now if a little minimalist.  The final touches and trinkets can come later I guess but for now I'm happy.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Beach Party

Still no bathroom pictures I hear you cry!  Really though, this is far more interesting.  Promise.

Yoyo was 9 on Saturday and I gave her a little beach party.  I'm not usually one for a 'theme', but with fabulous Pinterest as inspiration I couldn't help myself.  My wonderful friend Lizz helped me with everything (think she realised she had to step in when I confessed my usual strategy was to throw a pack of hula hoops in a bowl and shove some music on).

You can check out the inspiration (or should I call that Pinspiration) via my Pinterest link above.  Highlights were shark fin and beach cupcakes (crumbled digestive biscuits for the sand!), a cucumber 'killer whale', popcorn in buckets with spades instead of spoons and the piano turning into a buffet of sorts. 

Lizz designed a beach themed craft activity, making seaside inspired art out of chocolate.  Yum. 

We used milk chocolate, melted in the microwave and put onto a greaseproof square for each child.  Top tip - get the child to write their name on the paper first to avoid confusion later!  They then had a selection of goodies to decorate with, sand (digestive biscuit), sea/sky (granulated sugar and food colouring) and sugar paste shells/fish/seahorses (made by Lizz).

The finished creations were then put in the freezer for rest of the party so were solid enough to go home in an hour.

And the finished result.....

Well the parents seemed impressed at our creative efforts ;-)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Whoops and's about time for that bathroom update

You don't want to hear excuses about why it has taken over 6 months to come back to you with an update do you.....just want some bathroom snaps I'm sure.  If anyone is out there.....!!!??

So huge apologies they are on their way.  And I won't keep you waiting 6 months this time.

In the meantime here is a little teaser of the subway tile and Ikea etched mirror (and moi).

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Corners of my home this morning

Some pictures from my home today.  Snowdrops from the garden in a jam jar - I always feel strangely guilty  bringing these indoors but they are just too pretty to leave outside.

A canvas picture that littlest one painted over the summer which has finally made its way onto the wall.

Cosy blankets and cushions which never seem to stay where they belong in the living room.  I bought this owl from a little shop in Great Missenden at Christmas time.

And I will update you on the bathroom soon I assure you.  We are one coat of 'Rock Candy 1' to go on the bookcase!  It will be worth the wait I promise.


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