DIY magnetic poster rails

Lovely contemporary posters are easy to find and cheap to buy. I picked up two botanical illustrations that were being sold as wrapping paper at Cambridge Botanical Garden but present indicative has a brilliant range. I wanted to keep them light and hang them using poster rails rather than framing them. Posters rails I discovered are not cheap. I didn’t want to be paying over £30 to hang my £3 posters. So I made my own and you can too. This project cost me £11.06 and was a very easy afternoon project.

I bought 2 lengths of decorative edging/dowel at my local hardware shop. It’s cheap as chips at less than £2 for a 2.4 meter lengrh. For each poster you wish to hang you will need 4 lengths of wood the width of your poster. My posters were 50cm wide. I cut the wood into 55cm lengths so there was a little over hang at either end. 1 length of wood was enough to hang 1 poster.

I chose to stain my wood with some varnish I had left over from another project to match the console table the posters are going to hang above. Painting or varnishing the wood is optional.

I didn’t paint my nails for this photo I’m just the kind of person who is stupid enough to paint her nails and then go varnish some wood.

Once varnished or painted cut the wood to the length you want and sand the ends so they are smooth and even.

Stick magnetic tape (you’ll need tape with both polarities so it sticks to itself) cut to the same length as your poster is wide to the inside of each piece of wood. On one of the rails attach some fine string, cord or braid so you can hang your posters. You should have 4 equal lengths that look like this.

Sandwhich your poster between the 2 rails ensuring the rail with the string is at the top of your poster. Hang using a picture hook then Stand back and admire your handy work. You could Sandwhich 2 posters between the rails so you can flip the rail over and have different art work whenever you fancy a change.

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3 ingredient wood polish

I am really pleased with this wood polish I made. For surfaces other than wood I use the lemon enzyme cleaner I shared in the previous post but for wood this polish is really nourishing. The nicest part is that you can scent it however you like with essential oils of your choice, I use my own theives blend.

Like most of my cleaning products it’s wonderfully simple just 3 ingredients.

200ml Olive oil

200ml White vinegar

15 drops essential oil

Add to a glass spray bottle (I store all my cleaning products in glass because essential oils can degrade plastic) and shake gentle to mix.

To use spray on the surface you wish to clean, leave for a few seconds and polish with a soft cloth.

Natural cleaning

In 2018 we made the switch to more natural cosmetics and really felt happy about banishing some pretty nasty chemicals from our home. 2019 has seen us made the switch to natural cleaning products and the difference it has made is quite startling. The main benefit for me personally is in my skin, particularly on my hands. Usually by this point in the year my hands are extremly dry, cracked and painful. Since switching our cleaning products to natural alternatives they are soft, not irritated and not cracked. It’s so lovely!

My reason for switching to more natural products is two fold. The first is for environmental reasons. The second reason is for health. I am increasingly concerned about the ingredients used in cosmetics and cleaning products that have been linked to cancer and blamed for interfering with the endocrine system in humans and animals. We have all been healthier since we made the switch.

Today I thought i’d share the first thing I made, a multipurpose cleaner I use on the tub, tiles, sink, stove, pots and pans. It can be used to pre treat laundry stains and on carpet stains too. I am very pleased with it.

Multi-purpose cleaner

115 ml castile soap

105 grams bicarbonate of soda

5-10 drops of essential oils

Mix the ingredients to a smooth paste and store in a glass jar. Clean surfaces with the paste using a soft cloth (I like eco egg re-usable bamboo towels). For stain removal apply the paste and spray with hydrogen peroxide before laundering.

Depending on where I am using this cleaner I vary which essential oils I use. I like lemon for the kitchen for its fresh scent and antibacterial properties. For the bathrooms I use organic defence by Neal’s Yard Remedies. It’s a blend of lemongrass, niaouli and thyme and has antibacterial and anti-viral properties as well as supporting the bodies immune system and purifing the air. It has been specially blended with cleaning in mind.

October favourites

October is a beautiful month that I sometimes struggle to fully appreciate because I dread winter so much and October reminds me it’s coming.

After what was a lovely summer where I’ve barely needed a cardigan for months on end and we seem to have lived out of doors it was nice to feel the weight of a thick jumper again and enjoy hearty comfort food.

We have baked too and made Gingerbread autumn leaves during half term. The perfect snack to enjoy on returning from a visit to the Pumpkin patch.

We gathered Conker’s and the children enjoyed filling their pockets, and subsequently my washing machine with them. Now conkers in your washing machine are usually a nuisance but i’ve read you can use them to do your laundry so we are planning to try it with our foraged conkers. The conkers need breaking up, drying and soaking to make a detergent so it’s bit fiddly but hopfully a local grown and green alternative to washing powder and soaps.

Speaking of home produce we were gifted some quinces, they look lovely in a big wooden bowl and fill the house with their perfume.

DIY shower jellies

I have two daughters and they LOVE a certain shop full of multicoloured bath bombs, shower jellies and candy flavoured lotions – you know the one I mean.

I can see the appeal, I really can and there are MUCH worse cosmetics out there but there are still ingredients in their products that i’m not happy about my girls using. Ingredients that have been linked to fertility issues and cancer. In reading a lot of their ingredients lists it occured to me I could make these products quite easily at home and so without further waffle from me I give you DIY shower jellies.

Ingredients

240ml water

120ml Neal’s Yard Create hair and body wash (£6.50 for 250ml)

1 sachet Gelatine or Aggar if you prefer a vegan option

Essential oils of your choice (again I choose Neal’s Yard for their quality)

Food colouring (optional)

Silicone moulds/clean plastic container/jam jar

In a ban Marie begin to warm your water when it is just starting to bubble add the create wash and stir.

Add a few drops of your chosen essential oils (I recommend you do a little research about these super oils, their properties and dilution guides this book is extremely helpful).

Stir well and then add a tiny amount of food colouring – don’t use too much or you’ll colour yourself in the shower. The soap will cloud slightly this is normal.

Stir well whilst continuing to warm gently.

When your ingredients are well mixed and heated but not boiling remove from the heat, pour into a measuring jug and sprinkle in the gelatine (follow the instructions the pack).

Mix well and pour into your chosen moulds.

Allow to cool to room temperature and then put in fridge to fully set.

Turn out of the moulds and store in a jam jar or similar container. You may want to avoid keeping your jellies in a warm room such a the bathroom in case they melt before you want them to. Enjoy!

DIY lime wax

I’ve been on the lookout for an old pine farmhouse table FOREVER and earlier this year I finally found one on a local selling site for £30 hooray! It was heavily varnished and extremly…orange but well built by a local company and just what I was looking for.

Here is the before

I set to work stripping the layers of varnish back and sanding the legs. I painted the lower half of the table and legs in a country cream but wanted to leave the top to look like stripped pine.

Even after two coats of stripper and a good sand the wood was still too orange for my tastes so I decided to lime wax the top but I didn’t have any lime wax so I decided to try use what I had to hand. It worked brilliantly so I thought i’d share my “recipe” here with you.

Mixed 1 table spoon of finishing wax with a generous table spoon of chalk paint in a clean container – reuse a plastic food conatiner or take away cup.

Apply this mixture this with a brush (I have an ordinary household paint brush that I use specifically for applying wax) to your prepared wood surface. Go with the grain of the wood and let is sit for 10 mins. You can leave it longer depending on the effect you want.

Then using an old cloth – I used a child’s vest from my rag bag that had sprouted holes. Rub the wax into the wood removing any excess to achieve your desired effect. Again go with the grain of the wood at this stage.

Allow to dry thoroughly. Keep adding layers, waxing on and off until you are happy with the effect. Leave to dry. Once thoroughly dry apply a final coat of just wax with no paint added and buff with an old cloth until you have a slight sheen. Leave to dry and your done.

And so here it is. I found some chairs also second hand and painted them to match. All in all this project came in under £100 and i’m pretty pleased with it. My next job is to tackle our ugly kitchen lino which was here when we moved in and we all hate.

Plastic waste

Single use plastic is THE environmental issue of the moment and apparently everyone is quite up for this challenge. I’ve been asked quite a lot what switches we’ve made in our home. So here is my attempt to write them all down. It’s not that I claim to be an expert on this matter I am simply a concerned citizen trying to do my best. We, as as a family, have been at this quite a long time and we are still far from perfect or finished with making changes. We have been gradually making changes and looking for alternatives to plastic when things around our home have broken and need replacing for a few years.

Be encouraged It is better to start somewhere and change one thing than to be overwhelmed and do nothing. Also (not to add to your load) but plastic is not the only environmental issue our planet faces If your not ready to go plastic free or feel inspired to act in another way go for it, blaze your own trail! But I hope you’ll find something on this list that makes you think “i could do that”. I’m certainly not claiming we have it sorted, we definitely don’t but we have made made a start. So find a comfy chair, make make a cup of tea (loose tea preferably) and read on.

Kids parties – I know this sounds an odd place to start but it’s where I started. 10 years ago when I had my first baby and we started going to kids parties. I was really struck by the amount of unnecessary plastic rubbish kids parties bought into our lives – I found it quite troubling and began to question this whole plastic thing. I started with paper party bags and wooden toys as party treats (yoyo’s, mini wooden spinning tops, cardboard puzzles or books – I find our local fair trade shop or oxfam good for these little things). Other things to think about balloons, single use cups, plates, cuttlery, straws, decorations, wrapping paper and cards.

Carrier bags I think we’re all onto this trick now. I love the kind that fold down or scrunch into a drawstring bag. I always have at least 1 in my handbag and some in the boot of the car too.

Laundry a year ago we started using an eco egg * and are really pleased with it. To be fair I was buying laundry powder in a cardboard box but now my laundry is waste free and i’m saving so much money on detergent. The plastic egg is refillable. I use wooden pegs to dry my laundry

Baby wipes if i’m being 100% honest I gave up baby wipes completly last spring and I still miss them. It’s one of the few things I do miss. However a flannel is much kinder to the planet and our skin so i’m sticking to my guns. When my children were babies I used cotton wool and water to change them – even when out and about but as they became toddlers a packet of wipes for mucky faces and hands was added to my changing bag.

Sanitary towels this is a switch i’m about to make. With an almost teenage girl in the house who I NEVER want to use chemical laden sanitary products (google it you’ll be horrified) I’ve decided to start a subscription with TOTM.

Toothbrushes the children and my husband have made the switch to bamboo brushes. I’ll be honest I use an electric toothbrush on the recommendation of my dentist and a perscription toothpaste – I did not luck out when it came to teeth sadly.

Razors My husband has just made the switch to a metal safety razor and when my current plastic razor needs replacing I will to. The first few attempts were messy I won’t lie but he soon got the hang of it. We’ll be buying replacement blades from this company because the blades come wrapped in paper and in a cardboard box.

Toilet brush recently my toilet brush started malting nylon bristles every time I cleaned the toilet – imagine my horror. I’ve replaced it with a wooden brush with natural bristles and a metal pot.

Pan scrubber something else I’ve replaced with an FSC wooden brush and natural bristles – TK Max is an affordable source of these.

Toiletries i’m a consultant with Neal’s Yard Remedies and buy my toiletries from them. They are all packaged in glass or plastic that’s made from 100% post consumer waste sourced within the UK. I could talk all day about this companies green credentials and beautiful products. As you can probably tell living an environmentally conscious lifestyle can be a little extra work sometimes (but not hard). It’s great when you find a company you can really trust, who are thinking of the details even you wouldn’t think of. If you want to make a small change in this area switch to using a bar of soap instead of of a bottle.

Cleaning I’m in the process of overhauling our cleaning products and I hope to share more on that with you soon – for me it’s more about using natural cleaners than going plastic free but it’s a happy coincidence that it’s helping reduce our plastic consumption too. This week I’ve discovered you can use a bar of natural soap (i’m experimenting with pears because it’s readily available) to wash dishes. I just put the bar of soap in a cup. Run hot water into the cup and let the suds run into the washing up bowl below. Consider also your cleaning cloths – ours are made of bamboo fibres and plastic free.

Packed lunches we have ditched sandwich bags, yoghurt pots (i make my own yoghurt) and i’ve challenged the kids to find and plastic alternative to crisps and snack bars this year. We all have a reusable water bottle which we take wherever we go and I have and reusable coffee cup in the car for trips out.

Toys buy less and buy wooden that’s always been my moto. If your child is desperate for a particular toy (we had a year where rollerskates were top of everyone’s christmas list) buy second hand.

Straws supper simple just don’t use them

Groceries wherever possible I buy loose vegetables and seek alternatives to plastic. Having milk delivered in glass bottles for example. It’s definitely not easy and I think our food shopping is still our biggest source of plastic into our home. It’s possibly the biggest source of hidden plastics too (tea bags and chewing gum for example) I hope it will become easier to shop plastic free as more and more people seek alternatives. We are really fortunate that our council will recycle most plastics but I avoid polystyrene, which is not recyclable at all costs in food packaging.

Another tip is to make your own foods from scratch – cooking fresh is not only healthy but less wasteful than pre prepared foods. Making your own jams and preserves is is a fun way to reuse your old jam jars. I don’t buy any drinks in plastic bottles but make some homemade cordials occasionally as a treat. If you buy a lot of dried fruit it may be cheaper and healthier to buy a dehydrator and make your own. My husband brews his own beer and as I”ve already mentioned I make our own yoghurt. Food storage is another area to consider you can buy bio degradable cling film and wax wraps are very popular and easy to make at home.

The Garden I have a metal watering can outside and I’m asking for a glass plant sprayer for christmas to replace my plastic one which I use to water my indoor plants and has just split.

I reuse plastic garden pots for sowing seeds and taking cuttings. I also reuse toilet rolls and make newspaper pots for seed sowing. Rather than using plastic seed trays I use foil roasting trays to hold my paper pots. These can be recycled at the end of the season. I use wooden lolly sticks for plant labels.

We also frequently engage is is a bit of “plogging” That’s walking and going about your daily business whilst litter picking in our local area (of course we recycle whatever we can) and seed bombing too. We make our seed bombs with native British wild flower seeds and natural mud or other compostable material. We are secret flower fairies.

Clothes I try to buy natural fibres whenever I can and most of our clothes come from charity shops, generous friends or are home made. If you have a lot of synthetic fibres consider washing less often and using guppy bags. Also I know it’s dull but look after your clothes and repair them when they break – my least favourite chore. The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful industries on the planet and we all need to play a part in slowing down how fast we consume these items.

Car maintainance we buy Engine oil in wine box style cardboard boxes – search on e-bay.

Pet care – we use litter for our house rabbit that is made from recycled newpaper and comes in a paper bag. We also buy his food in a paper bag. He eats our vegetable scraps and keeps the lawn down – so he’s a pretty low waste pet.

Wow, its quite quite a list congratulations if you read this far! Like I said way back at the beginning it’s been a series of small changes over several years. My husband and I have have a healthy competitiveness over who can find the best plastic alternative and I like to involve the children too – they have really taken this on board and are challenging their school friend to recycle and use less plastics too and making good consumer choices. Other than the baby wipes which I miss (such a first world problem) it’s actually been fun to find alternatives and think a little outside the box.

*None of the links above are sponsored they are quite simply products I’m happy to recommend.