Starting a colourful little bathroom


Having finished most of the work on the house we’ve been busily getting on with our lives, blissfully using our new shiny ensuite and forgetting all about the building site that remains the old family bathroom which now belongs to the three most important people we are supposed to be looking after, our children, and which ever guests come to stay. It has been a half tiled-half floorboard mess and the house of random tools for about 4 months now but money has been really tight and we’ve been avoiding sorting it. Having realised that money will continue to be tight and the floor boards ore kind of uncomfortable and dangerous and it looks a state we’ve taken the plunge and ordered some tiles this week. That part of the job will be over to Joel and I shall busy myself arranging toiletries on the shelves and filling baskets with lush things.

I bought this pretty wire basket from Rice DK to keep towels in. (We now all have a towel colour so there should be no excuses for mix ups or anyone being without.) I then spent a nice evening painting stripes on these old ikea storage baskets I have grown to loathe over the past 12 years we’ve had them. I reckon I go the better deal as I sat in front of the TV deciding whether to do peach, mint then pink or peach, pink, purple, mint…while Joel could be heard shouting upstairs and dropping big things onto floorboards whilst attaching some disobedient shelves to the wall and stating that he categorically hates DIY. But I am pleased with both shelves and baskets and  it does feel good breathing some new life into things that are sitting around rather aimlessly and making them look pretty… and beats spending money we don’t have on baskets that cost a lot if I’d gone down the road of replacing them.

So next week the floor tiles arrive. A couple more shelves need to go in and then the biggest bathroom challenge is probably on the horizon as we probably need to think about the horrendous task of potty training. Because who doesn’t like wee all over new floors?

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Copper and marble bedside tables. An Ikea hack.

The last couple of months have been somewhat of a blur of building dust and disorientation. These things are all going on… 1. The upstairs of the house has been knocked down in the middle 2. We’ve has builders starting work at 8am in our bedroom Monday-Friday while we are still using it to sleep in. The baby is turning 2, learning to use a big bed and learning to get up, find me in the night and make sure I am awake and giving her attention. Kicking has proven most effective and the method so she seems happy sticking with that. There have been so many changes and wonderful things to buy and make for what feels like an entirely new house… where to start?

Well an Ikea hack,  of course. A good cheap one.

I feel like I have looked at every. bedside. table. in the whole world. Its not been an item that’s justified being on the spendy items list. It’s hardly an investment piece. Nevertheless, the bedside table is there, faithfully standing by you night and day and looking after all the little nick nacks most precious. It deserves to be at least a bit lovely.

I decided that I wanted marble. And copper is, of course, a fave.  I have a painted bed so a standard Annie Sloan job to a normal wooden bedside table wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted something a little more statement. I actually didn’t really have a spare £400 to get one I really liked… make that  £800 for a pair of them. £11 seemed like a better idea.

I bought a couple of the Ikea Nesna bedside tables. I didn’t want anything too chunky and these are delicate, light, yet still have a storage shelf so you don’t have to be overly minimalistic. They’re also £9 – ahhhh, hurray for that.

I painted the whole lot up first with Annie Sloan Old White and wax.  The top shelf is glass but I didn’t insert that when putting it together and wanted to use that as the middle shelf. The slats across are rather charming but I opted to leave them out and rotate the 2 sides by 90 degrees so that the middle shelf doesn’t show the holes for the slats. I then stuck the glass (which should be the table top) onto the frame. I used tile adhesive for this but in hindsight I think using a glue gun would have been less messy and less visible. After I’d put it all together I tightened the screws so they went in as far I they would go and used polyfilla to cover them. (sanding this down and applying paint again) I wanted to place it so that the widest side faced fowards so these silver screws would have been a little obvious otherwise.

The marble effect table tops are made from floor tiles. I decided these were more durable and had a much smarter feel than adhesive plastic coating. They were also cheaper. I ordered 2 different styles of sample marble floor tile and they were delivered to my door for the grand total of £2.50. They were much bigger than that table top but we had a borrowed tile cutter to do the bathroom so chopped them to sit over the top of the table with a couple of cms overhang. I expect I could have found ones closer to the table size (I actually ordered the tiles before I had even chosen the table). The edging didn’t actually look as bad as I expected. I thought it would look very raw and exposed but I could have happily left it as a tile top (there’s a post on my instagram of this mid-way stage with just the tile on the table with the slats still on). I do like a fancy finishing touch though and had ordered this copper tape from amazon and used it  (just as a sellotape but with much sharper edges… be warned) and wrapped it around the tile edge. It just so happened to be exactly the same width. (I am of course going to pretend I measured it and ordered the perfect one intentionally… my dad thinks I am a scatty, disorganised decorator so I love a good fluke) I used tile adhesive again to attach the tile to the top of the table frame.

And there you have it. Super easy, super cheap and super pretty (and manly of course… Joel is v.happy to have his cup of tea sitting here)

I am by no means a tidy diy-er and am fully aware these could have been made a whole lot better by a more patient person who doesnt rush decorating jobs at 1am in the dark. Someone else out there could make a beautiful go of these. If so please tag me so I can see and feel like a useful sort of soul.

Chalkboard Wall

IMG_4517This is a DIY job I’ve been drudging my way towards for a too long. We’ve had a chalk wall in the kitchen-diner for a about 6 years. We flirted with a pale blue one for a bit of a change when I was pregnant, but I missed our chalk wall too much and realising I told practically eveyone who came round and commented on our interior that we ‘used to have a whole chalk board wall here’, basically we needed it back. We love it.

So there have been a couple of patches where we’ve taken some speakers down (I evidently painted it in a hurry and didn’t think to go behind these) and then there was the Christmas mistake.

I got some beautiful white chalk pencils from Father Christmas and thought it was the answer to all ‘not being able to write neatly in stubby chalk’ issues. So I scrawled some Christmas carols on the wall, not particularly neatly, not even necessarily the right words even. Then after Christmas I went to clear it and it stayed completely put. Oh. Ok then.

So, I’ve needed to paint over. It’s never the most inspiring job. I’m not good at prep work or anything that doesn’t have the instantaneous wow factor of a big change. So that’s why it’s stayed Christmas on our walls until February.

I decided to opt for the Annie Sloan chalk paint this time, rather than the traditional chalk board paint and actually I’ve rather loved it and had a much better afternoon of DIY than expected. I bought a pot of ‘Graphite’ – which is basically the chalkboard black but I mixed it into an almost finished pot of the Annie Sloan ‘Old White’. I was advised to water the paint down to use on walls so that did make the paining quicker (although a fair bit splattier too) and applied it with a small roller. I always use the radiator rollers to avoid too much arm ache. I found it went on black but dried fairly quickly as a lovely matt charcoal grey. The whole wall took me about an hour to do… and then task over. Time for a bubble bath.

I promise the last image shows a wonky panoramic picture and not wonky walls or wonky paining!

All ready to use bog standard, non permanent chalk to cover it with hearts and love things for valentines day.

Advent Planner 2015

Ooh this year its been tricky to plan advent. Having an 20 month old, a primary schooler and now one in secondary school we do only have a very small window of opportunity together and some evenings I’ve had to plan around the fact that we may just be able to grab 5 mins together in the same place. Lots of the activities we are doing are repeats of things we’ve done over the past few years so I’m not planning to blog each day seperately, but I do try to vary it a bit so that the children don’t quite know what to expect, while also not feeling any pressure to make each year totally different so that they stay grateful for the simple and basic activites.

Here are the 24 different things we are up to this year. (Note: If you are one of my children and have accidentally stumbled across this LOOK AWAY NOW… and you may be allowed to revisit after December 24th)

  1. Writing our Christmas cards
  2. Making paperchains
  3. Buying and decorating the tree (including mulled wine for the grown ups)
  4. Movie Night -Healthy pop corn and Inside Out.
  5. Local nativity
  6. Carols singing in a local pub
  7. Making snowflake white chocolate lollies
  8. Writing Christmas lists
  9. Decorating baubles (I bought glass fillable ones and white ones to write on with oil based sharpie)
  10. Out for a hot chocolate (trip that includes some visits to local independent shops to get flowers and bits and pieces for hampers)
  11. Movie Night: Home Alone
  12. Christmas Cards for the baby to make. This was a simple pack of stickers, glue and papers for a craft activity for the bigger 2 to do with their little sister. This was show day for both the older 2 so seemed fitting to make todays activity somethng for the smaller one to do.
  13. Sleeopver (they each have a friend I’ve invited over, without them knowing. There are Christmas party games planned and a small Christmas gift for each of them)
  14. Snowman Biscuits. A simple shortbread recipe and a few basic decorations.
  15. Grotto. We’ve not seen Father Christmas for a few years and I think the older 2 are maybe a bit big… but they have a duty to their little sister and I’m hoping they’ll secretly love it!
  16. Biscotti. We have some gift bags and are planning to use this baking activity to add gifts into a few pressies and to make gifts for teachers.
  17. Lantern Making. I’ve saved 3 pesto jars and tea lights and using decopatch glue and tissue papers we’ll make some pretty little lights.
  18. Thanksgiving cards. Here’s where they write a prayer of thanks in a little notecard to acknowledge some of the different ways they are blessed and are grateful to God for. We pin these on the wall to remind us to be thankful people.
  19. Movie Night: I think this one might just need to be The Snowman. It is most definitely the best.
  20. Trip to a Christmas House.
  21. Christmas shopping. We’ve done most of this already and have done all the main bits online. I try to keep the children away from all the consumer stress of it all and this trip is more about local shops and little extras with no pressure to buy anything.
  22. Family Christmas party. Crackers, classic party games, possibly traingle sandwiches for tea… and it might all end with the start of an 1000 piece jigsaw.
  23. Cristmas wrapping. The children get to wrap the bits and pieces they have arranged for gifts. I try not to interfere with the bad folding and sticking and let them experience their freedom… I do try. Sometimes my reactions are too expressive and occasionally I grab the sellotape off them.
  24. Winter Walk. Welly boots on. Woods. Bag of snacks. 🙂

Each of these activities is wrapped in one of these pretty copper parcels. Each morning we get a few mins together at the start of the day to open it and see what we’ll be doing later that day. It really is a lovely start to the day and it works to help them to be really appreciative of the ordinary parts of preparing for Christmas.

I would love to hear any other tried and tested good ideas that might suit my age range and time limitations. Why are children so busy?!



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My DIY Christmas: The Notice Boards

I’m not going to lie. There’s not been as much crafting at the Toombs house in recent days. I do wonder how I managed to make a tipi, a mobile, sew cloud cushions, mould bath bombs, make 2 christmas puddings and hand tie tutus for the month of December last year. I guess the baby was not mobile, or so vocal.

This year the DIY comes more in the form of sourcing cheaper versions of cool expensive things. Ok. It’s not actually DIY at all. We’re planning some big room move around in the next few months and all excitement is set on the bigger 2 and their planning of their ‘cool new rooms’. I’ve been trying to hold back from getting them TOO many bits for them for Christmas. There is no where to put it all until the move happens but at the same time I do love being able to buy useful Christmas gifts. The pictures above are my pinterest goals. They both will need to priorotise a working desk space in their new rooms and though they both love the retro industrial look I want to make sure each of their spaces are characterised differently to mark the move from a shared boy/girl room into seperate spaces.

I love these retro peg boards. We had one in our old office which was still around from the 70s. I didn’t expect I’d be hunting online a couple of years later and seeing small pieces available for around the £90 mark. I wanted one for Elijah’s room that would be big enough to spread most of the width of a desk and they were looking rather pricey so I found a plain board on ebay for the grand sum of £6. I’ve taken some duck-egg Annie Sloan chalk paint to it and think it will do the trick just nicely. I just need to hunt down the best mix of attatchments to hang things from and love some of the bright pegs and shelves I’ve seen but have no idea where to source things like that from.

The grid is perfect for what I have in mind for Hollys room. I bought this 4 foot version for just under £20 from amazon. Again, its to span the width of the desk. For Christmas I plan to style it up for her with motivational postcards, prints, washi tape and bright bulldog clips. I think that might be more appealing than the plain grid in a bin bag that is currenty sitting in the loft!

I’m really keen to hear any suggestions of peg board accessories. I did order some really cure shaped wooden ones… which happen to be about 10x too big for the holes. Maths fail on that one. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Images all taken from Pinterest.

2015. The Anxiety Issue

I’m not normally one for sharing a negative post. I’m really not an extrovert. When times are tough for me, I disappear and only reemerge once I’ve made sense of things on my own. However, since my last posts were a daily flow of advent activites… followed by a year of silence I feel its a significant step for me to break that.

I’m not planning to delve into too much of my worries over the past year but I will say that 2015 feels very much that it has been marked by anxiety and that the control that its had over over far too many of the 365 days and many sleepless nights has been really really tough. It has most certainly been the hardest time I have even been through and now that I am starting to have a fair few more normal days I am very keen to confine what has been, look forward to a clean new year and write the last year off as a learning experience. It could well be post natal. It could just be circumstancial. When I first saw a therapist for some advice she mapped me out in a big triangle and explained that the 5 or 6 things I was trying to cram into the top of my already ‘very full volcano’ meant I had nothing else to do but explode. The explainiations for the why are incredibly helpful, and I appreciated them. They don’t make the fears seem any less real though and I’m still not too sure what can ever make those go away.

One thing I have learned though, contrary to the billions of articles being shared around social media, is that talking doesn’t necessarily help. I’ve found the opposite to be true. I’ve learned to embrace my introvert ways and have found listening to be far more effective.  I’m so thankful to each and every person who has shared their own worries with me, cried about the tough things they are facing or shared their anxious thoughts with me. There have been many… but hearing concerns that allow me time off my own has been really helpful… for me. We all have such different fears, challenges, struggles, insecurities and it has been really important for me to keep lifting my head out of my own little world and get a feel for what else is going on… not just fill the space with more of myself.

Praying has helped me have a point of focus. Perfect love casts out all fear… and I’ve been making that my goal.

So here marks the end of my silence and here I go onwards and upwards with a plan to blog more money muddles, home plans, shopping confessions from here on… and hoping 2016 is better.



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Advent Series Day 24: The Christmas Cake

IMG_0608Ahhh we are at the end! We’ve had a lovely day doing an early Christmas with my brother and his family but just about had time to do our final activity… the Christmas Cake.

Holly had already done the cake. She’s such a keen baker.

Today I wrapped up a couple of lovely Shleich deer and got out our snowflake cutters, some wooden kebab scewers and card. We added a bit of edible glitter of course… and then just a bit of neon. 😀

IMG_0606 And here are my 3 special favourites having fun with a bit of neon 😀

IMG_0483Happy Christmas!!!