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.

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Advent Series Day 23: The DIY Nursery Mobile

IMG_0372I hunted high and low for a mobile I liked for Niema’s nursery. I really wanted to avoid a noisy plastic one. I’ve had bad experiences with the music going out of tune, the plastic cracking, the cot getting dented, the arm thing bending and the animals looking a bit like dead things on string. So I opted to get her an ipod to tick the music box (she listens to a wide variety of baby sleepy classical music that way rather than just one song) and promised to find her a pretty and non musical one to hang above her cot. I looked at some lovely ones on Etsy and almost bought one a couple of times but then when I found the Belle and Boo craft book and there was the most gorgeous mobile project in there that the kids saw and asked if we could make it. We decided it may be a nice thing for them to make for Niema for Christmas. I like the idea that we all make a handmade gift for each other. (We also have each picked out another family member to write a poem for this year – much like secret santa but not with money)

I bought the hoop from ebay and wraped it with some card I’d bought which match the Cable and Cotton lights in her nursery and some invisible thread. We sat together – (me and the 2 older children) and worked hard at this project all afternoon. Holly was drawing 33 hot air balloons, Elijah drawing from the bird templates, I did the clouds and was on cutting mat duty. Elijah rubbed out the pencil marks and Holly put sticky tape on all the folded balloons I’d scored. It was a team effort – and they did brilliantly with great attitudes. I painted the hoop white with some Annie Sloan pure and though I’ve still not tried it in the nursery… I THINK it should all go nicely! We’re all really pleased with the finished piece. It’s such a pretty idea and looks really interesting from underneath where all the balloon sections splay out which is the way she will see it when she’s in her cot.

I feel so sad there is only one more day of advent 😦 I think I love the projects we have been doing more than Christmas day itself. One more to go but I am certainly really pleased with todays and know the children will love giving this gift to their sister more than any other thing they’ve bought anyone. Hmmm how to wrap it though… it might just have to ang down inside my DIY tipi… ooh I need to post about that stress!

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The Advent Series 2014

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I’ve been doing this activity style advent calendar now for the last 3 years and it really has to be one of the highlights of our family year. I love December and think its worth milking the whole month for all the Christmassness it has to offer – it is the only chance we get afterall.

December is already full of events, preperations, jobs we have to do, jobs we love to do, things to see, crafts to make, foods to enjoy… so rather than struggling to fit these things and juggle the busy-ness I sit carefully with my calendar at the end of November and plan these activities in as an advent calendar for the family. Each day has a parcel containing a clue, a ‘ticket’, some ingredients or a recipe, a craft, a trip…basically something we ‘do’ that day.

The children love this so much. They have been talking about it non stop. It really feels like Christmas starts in the morning here. They talk about their favourite activities of previous years and the ones they really hope we’ll do again. They really are so excited. Some of the days are mundane things… this isn’t a costly thing at all. I don’t think there is anything in the parcels that I’ve bought for the sake of this Advent Series… its all things we would do anyway. For example one of the days is a pack of their Christmas cards and a bag of chocolate coins so that they can write their class cards. Wrapping this up as an activity in a parcel makes this ‘urrrgh’ task into something they feel excited to do… and means it gets done in one evening rather than dragging on and on and on as it can do!

So as we start the next 24 days of advent I will be blogging each activity we do, and if you are reading this and doing something similar or have ideas to throw into the mix I would love to hear them in the comments below. Someone I know has just started doing this for the first time this year and is calling it their ‘Advent-ures’ I love that (!) and have been more than happy to share my calendar with her… and I’m sure I’ll be borrowing ideas back as I see the posts of hers too.

I have to plan carefully alongside after school clubs, what times we get in from work on certain days etc but generally I try to put in a craft, a baking, a trip, and evnt and a chilled out treat each week.

So as an overview here is how my next 24 days should look.

1st Christmas Tree Trip

2nd Baking Rudolf Cookies

3rd Letter Decorations

4th Christmas Shopping Trip

5th Christmas Movie and popcorn

6th Trip to Journey To Bethlehem (a free local event)

7th Christmas Cards

8th Letters to Father Christmas

9th Making Snowglobes

10th Christmas Party

11th School Disco

12th Wrapping Up

13th Gingerbread House

14th Trip out

15th Teachers Gifts

16th Lanterns

17th Mince Pies

18th Thanksgiving

19th Christmas Movie and Popcorn

20th Pantomime

21st Walk in the woods and DIY family photoshoot

22nd Walk round the local Christmassy shops and going for a hot chocolate

23rd Making a mobile

24th Crib Service and Decorating the Christmas Cake

Looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ each day with you as we go!

Project Dolly

Say hello to Willow.

She is just about complete. I am getting somewhat addicted to adding layers of hair. I want it thicker. I have enough practice at hair extensions that I used to clip in a few years ago and can apply this skill to wool dolly hair too so Willow will be fit to appear in Desperate Housewives if they ever make another series.

I have elaborated on her eyes. From plain black circles I have added in some eyelashes, some blue thread loosely around the outer sides, a small triangle of white in the corners and a small fleck in the middle of her pupils which the children and I agreed brought her to life strait away.

I chopped out half of her mouth. It needs a little wearing in after ‘mouth reduction surgery’ but I think it gives her a cheeky charm and makes her look a little more mischievous.

The hair was the biggest amount of work. As the material underneath the existing hair was black I knew I had to cover it well so I took three long strands of wool and sewed in a plait in rows.

I alternated plaiting and then stitching it into the head so that I was not working with too long a bit of wool at any time. Once this was done and all sewn along it made a secure and easy base to start sewing the strands of hair into. I used the plait I did right down the centre to thread one strand through, knot and divide to make a centre parting.

Secured with a simple knot    

 I took this parting through to the crown of the head where I started the first of the horizonal rows of hair.

For this section I doubled up the length of wool and threaded the middle through, taking the ends through the loop and pulling it to sit flat. I repeated this on a few different rows to thicken the hair and this is how I’ll continue to add thickness.

I’m not yet sure if I’ll need to secure the ends of her hair. I guess some sort of varnish, perhaps clear nail varnish or wax, to stop ends fraying but for now I’m going to leave it and see if they will stay together. I know either of those options will not be safe for a tiny person to play with.

 

For the last step I made her a little dress. I was desperate to get her out of pink. I did want her in a bright spring green and have a dress of mine in mind which has a big hole in it and may be in the recycling pile soon. I am so UBER keen on reusing old clothes for craft projects. When my children have a favorite t-shirt or dress etc and wear it to death it’s often not in good enough condition to pass on. I also don’t really like passing on those favorites that are then looking tatty as the people you pass them to never know how loved those things have really been and simply will not like them. Instead I pass on the hardly worn things – with few memories attached and keep the faves for making new things. (such as cushion covers which I am about to post about) So Willow will soon be wearing my old favorite green dress but for now she is modelling a lovely yellow maxi made from some leftover fabric I had from making summer tops with Holly and her friend Maisie when they had a sleepover last year (and went out the next day in matching outfits) I made this in 3 mins max – it was very simple! I held her to the fabric and cut out a rectangle a little wider than her and double (plus a bit) her length from shoulders down. in the centre I cut in a cross shape and then sewed that as a diamond shape. (a little bigger than the picture shows and one side deeper than the other) I then (colourful sides together) sewed down the sides, leaving the top open for the arms and the hemmed the bottom and the arm holes. I used the diamond shape to slot it over her head. The front looks like a wide v shape and the back is a much deeper V (the hussy!) which means I didn’t need to add any alternative way for her to get in and out of the dress- the diamond is big enough to fit her head through. I do not need to faff around with buttons or zips! I also made this a maxi as she has pink and black stripy legs. (and who doesn’t love a maxi?!)

 
 

 

So we love Willow. Holly is now requesting that I make another one for her. I may order 10 plain doll bodies and get a bit creative. Elijah keeps giving her new hair dos while he watches the world cup and, most importantly, Niema really likes her. There are 3 toys that really make her smile; a happy caterpillar, a little red cow and (my) Willow. This makes me a happy mummy.