Tag Archives: diy

Upcycling: Wall Hooks


I found this sad little thing at one of my local Salvos stores.  I imagine in her previous life she graced the walls of a little old lady’s home, maybe by the front door, to hold her bag, coat and hat.  Because of her dated pattern, she sat unloved on a shelf, marked $8.   I saw her potential, and brought her home for a face lift.

Sad, old wall hooks.

First, I had to pull her apart.

sad, old wall hooks 2

I used the old fabric and wadding as templates to cut new ones.  After scraping off all the old glue on the board, I attached both fabric and wadding to the backing board.  The fabric is a Joel Dewberry, in the Avery range.

Luc Preschool 023

A few white coats of paint to the frame, a little distressing and some new draw handles for hooks completed her new look. Her new home will be in my laundry, and she’ll have the honor of holding my broom, dustpan and fly swat.  Not an overly glamorous life, but at least she’ll look good doing it!

Finished Wall Hooks

I love giving things others throw away a second chance at life.   Do you?

Talk soon,



Reward Chart


We want to reward our children for helping around the home and for developing the skills to care for themselves.  In a big family, systems and routine are necessary to keep home running smoothly.  The fact that my home doesn’t run smoothly points a big finger at me, namely my extreme dislike of maintaining systems.  So, I put my thinking cap on and came up with a system the children can manage – all on their own.  Hooray!


Here’s how the reward chart works.  My children can earn 5 stars a day by completing tasks around the home.  5 stars in one day earns you a point – and 5 points in a week earns you a prize from the prize bag.  Because we do expect a lot of our older children, the prizes are things they think are super cool like DVDs, colouring books, picture books, small Star Wars lego sets etc.  Basically if we’re out shopping and we see something they’d like, it goes in the prize bag and it can be earned.


Reward Charts

Here’s how I made them.

My inspiration came from a key holder I saw in the craft section at Bunnings.  A bit of paint, and some fabric stuck down (with watered down PVA glue – as good as Mod Podge) makes it pretty.


Next I drew a picture of the tasks I’d like my children to do for me. I really tried to find what I wanted online, but the images weren’t exactly what I wanted.  I’m not the best at drawing, but these are good enough for me.



I cut them up and glued them to cardstock.  One side has the task, the other has a star.  I laminated them, punched a hole in them and attached a key ring.




Here’s a box full of different tasks.  Mostly it’s tidying different areas of the house.  The areas they use and mess up!




So, the idea is that they pick out tasks (or I can always assign some to them) and once they complete them, they turn the task to the star side.  I can check up to see what they have done by flipping the tag over.   The reward chart is self-completing, and I’m not the “self” completing it any more!  Phew!




Note: Special tags

I have created 2 special tags for the children.  One is a morning routine and the other is our afternoon routine.  To earn a star for those, there are a series of tasks to do.  These are all visually represented, and attached to a single key ring.  They can flip through the pictures to stay on track.  Morning jobs include: breakfast, make bed, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, pack school bag.  Afternoon jobs include: School bag away, lunchbox on kitchen bench, uniform away, put on play clothes, homework.

This morning the girl’s morning jobs were done in record timing.  They were outside playing in the rock pit at 7:20am.  Certainly record timing for getting ready!

Now to find a place to put them up!


What kind of reward, chore or job chart do you use?  How does it work?




Homemade Laundry Liquid


After trialling a friend’s batch of homemade laundry liquid in my front loader, I decided it was worth making some.  I wash AT LEAST two loads per day, and I’d never really given much thought to how much I was spending on laundry liquid.   Based on the brand I was using before, I was forking out $72.50 for 10L.  Making it myself, 10L now costs me $3.57!

My initial hesitations were whether it would clean as well as commercial brands, and if it would be safe for use in a front loader.  I can happily say yes and yes!  I washed my daughter’s white dress with pen marks on it (she’s not meant to use pens, but…) I didn’t pre-treat it – I just threw it in with a regular load.  It came out white, pen marks gone!   I attribute this to using Sard Wonder Soap in the recipe.  It’s a great stain remover.  This recipe does not create a lot of suds, so it is safe to use in a front loader.

I got my recipe from Rhonda at Down to Earth.  Here’s the process I used:

Homemade Laundry Liquid

1/2 bar of Sard Wonder Soap (bought from Woolworths)

1/2 bar of another soap (I used a soap I was given as a gift a few years ago)

1/2 cup of washing soda (bought from Woolworths)

1/2 cup of borax (bought from Coles)

10 Simple Steps 

1.  Grate soaps in a food processor.  Or by hand.  (If you can avoid grating by hand, do it!)

2.  Put 1L of water in a saucepan on a medium heat (1L = 4cups)

3.  Add soap, soda & borax.

4. Stir until dissolved.

5.  Fill a big nappy bucket with 9L of water.

6.  Add contents from saucepan.

7.  Stir until you’re happy it’s combined.

8.  Using a funnel, fill containers with the mix.  Leave 3 – 4 cm gap at the top.

9.  The mix will separate (don’t be alarmed, it’s normal), and you’ll need to give it a really vigorous shake before using.

10.  Pour 1/4 of a cup (or about 60mls) into your washing machine dispenser.

It’s that simple!

A few notes.

Don’t leave it in the bucket overnight – it will gel up and be a pain to put in bottles.  Once it’s cooled down and you’re satisfied it’s mixed thoroughly, fill your containers while the mix is in a liquid state.  I used a cup measure and a funnel to fill mine up.

It’s up to you what kind of containers you use to store your laundry liquid.  I have used 2L white vinegar bottles, soft drink bottles, old laundry detergent bottles – basically bits and bobs I collected in readiness for the project.  The vinegar bottles are my favourite because they have a handle which make shaking really easy. I’m going to collect 6 of these all up, and use them each time I make a new batch.  I’ll probably go OTT and make a cute label for them too.  I’m like that…

Your containers will end up with 2 layers once left overnight.  There will be a creamy white gel-like layer at the top, and a clear layer at the bottom.  Give a vigorous shake before each use to recombine all ingredients.   You must leave room in each container to be able to shake it up!

This laundry liquid is not overly fragrant.  If your second soap was highly perfumed, maybe that would make a difference.  I found that the smell of the Sard soap overpowered the other one I used.  So, the laundry liquid has a light ecualyptus scent.

Using  2L or 3L bottles allows you to experiment with adding different fragrances until you stumble on a mix that you like.  I have tried adding Lavender essential oil in one bottle and Eucalyptus in another.   I’m uncertain how much you’d need to use to get a strong fragrance.  I’ll update this down the track once I have finished experimenting.

Are the savings you can make using homemade laundry liquid worth giving it a try?  Let me know how you go!

Simple Shabby


It amazes me to see how much shabby chic furniture, frames, etc can cost.  I can only imagine that most of the price goes on labour, because it is a time consuming process.  But because it’s really not that hard to do I can’t justify the expense of purchasing someone else’s handiwork.  Why deprive yourself of the joy of creating? Last week I taught a friend just how simple it can be.  She got stuck straight into a buffet make over. But then she’s a “jump in the deep end” kind of girl!  With her permission, I’ll take some pics of her finished product to show you what a newbie can accomplish with a bit of courage and plenty of enthusiasm!

Here I’m going to demonstrate an easy-peasy lamp make over.  I bought these from my local op shop for $2.50 each.

When you’re out hunting for potential wooden items to give the shabby treatment to, just make sure you like the shape of the thing.  Also, when buying electrical goods from second hand places, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’ve been tested in store and are in working order.

Ok.  Let’s do this.

Grab some sandpaper and sand back the wooden surface.  The coarser the sandpaper, the quicker you’ll get the job done. However, you may end up with scratch marks on the timber.  All part of the look in my opinion.  The job does not need to be perfect.  Just rough up the varnish on the wood so the paint adheres.

Wipe off the dust with a damp cloth.  Allow the surface to dry, then paint!  Dulux Antique White USA is a popular shade for shabbying.  I happened to have some Hog Bristle Half laying around and used that.  Here’s what 2 coats looks like.

Once dry get your sandpaper and sand back parts that would naturally get knocked or bumped over the years.  Or not.  Just get in there and go for it!

I decided to try being a little braver than I normally might be.  I need to live with the results for a week or so to see if I love it.  Time will tell.  What do you think?

Finally, here the lamps are in their new habitat.  The lamp shades were bought years ago from Target, on special.  I still love their shape, but I may change the trim… It’s all a work in progress.

Happy upcycling!


Creating a Menu Board


I’ve been searching for a way to take a bit of the chaos out of menu planning and writing shopping lists.  It honestly takes me hours each week to flip through my recipe books and generate shopping lists – partly because I can be indecisive, partly because I’m bored/uninspired and partly because I have a strict budget that limits my choices.

I’ve been scouring pinterest for ideas for quite some time, and finally came across this absolute gem created by Clair at Once Upon a Chocolate Chip Pancake.  I love her visual tutorial, because when you’re excited about creating something new you don’t want to have to read through instructions – you just need the basic idea and you’re off! Right?!

Well, that’s my approach to most things.

Here’s mine menu board, and a few handy tips that I found along the way.  Read through Clair’s blog post first.  It truly is the ultimate-menu-board.  It’s fantastic!   I decided I wanted a bigger menu board than hers, because I wanted to plan for a fortnight.  I also didn’t worry about the little cute rotation boxes she has because I would have had to buy the crayon boxes and cover them. So I’m just going to keep my cards in a little basket on a nearby shelf.

(*Note: shelf does not yet exist.  Basket does.)

Here we go!  Firstly, it doesn’t have to cost a lot.  I picked up this super average looking frame for $15 from a Salvos store.

One word of advice when selecting a frame – make sure it has those metal bendy bits on the back that release the backing board from the frame.  I believe Clair’s tutorial even mentioned this, but of course, in my haste I purchased one that had the backing board stapled to the frame.  I created more work for myself… Yep, that’s how I roll.  I chose to sand & paint my frame.  I was considering making it a bit shabby by sanding the paint back, but I haven’t done so.  Yet.  I probably will.  Given enough time.


Next I covered the pegs with some fabric I had laying around.  Clair used scrapbooking paper for her project.  Using my patchwork gear, I measured the width of the pegs and cut a strip of fabric.  Then measured the length of the pegs and cross cut my strip.  The result was lots of little rectangles ready to be glued.  If I had it, I would use Mod Podge (google it, if you don’t know about it.)  But I don’t – watered down PVA glue will do the same job, and is probably waaaaay cheaper (which is what I want.)  Paint the pegs with glue, stick fabric down.  Then once dried (a bit, I mean, who wants to wait?)  paint over the top to give a “hard coat” finish.  You might want to do a few layers.  I did.  Can’t recall how many.  Probably 3.

I used fabric as the backing for my board, and some spray glue to stick it down.  Then I used vliesofix on the back of my fabric for the lettering.  I drew the letters on paper, cut it out, and used the cut-outs as a pattern to trace the lettering on my fabric.  I gently ironed it in place.  I put the whole thing back in the glass.  Job done.

Then came the part of sticking the pegs to glass.  Perhaps I was crazy to do this?  I used a hot glue gun.  Some of them stuck and some didn’t.  In my frustration (or thriftiness?) I used what I had in the garage – a silicone designed for fish tanks and wet areas to “glue” the pegs that kept coming off.  Apparently you’re not supposed to be able to use it on wood.  I did.  So far so good…

Next comes the bit where you need a bit of computer know-how.  Of course you probably have it, because you’ve found this blog post.  Using Clair’s instructions I created a table with 2 columns in Word.  One column has the recipe title, the other has your shopping list.  I left the internal lines on my table, but got rid of the left and right external table borders.  Try downloading a free font from somewhere to jazz it up.  No excuses for using “Comic Sans” in this day and age.  None.  Do you hear me?!

Print out your document on cardstock, cut along the horizontal lines of your table and fold on the middle line.  Laminate.  Here’s a trick I use when laminating tricky shapes so that the laminating sheet doesn’t get mashed up as it comes through the machine.  Maybe your machine doesn’t do this, but in case it does cut a narrow strip of card stock (you’ll have some left over bits from cutting up the recipe cards) and put it in the fold of the laminating pouch.  You’ll feed this into your laminating machine, and it’ll go through nicely without crinkling up your project.  Hurrah!  If you find that the sheet comes out a bit wrinkly, don’t worry, cut your cards up leaving a 1/4 inch border (yes, I know metric AND I’m a patchworker – so you’re going to get inches from time to time) and feed back through the machine.  Problem solved.

Here’s a close up in bad lighting.  I turned a few cards over so you can see the shopping list function of the cards.

And now it’s up on my wall, looking great!  The beautiful thing is that it now takes me 30 mins to write my shopping list for a FORTNIGHT!  I love it.  Because I can never remember what I’ve cooked the fortnight before, and this keeps track for me.  But mostly because I hate shopping with little people in tow.  Now I only need to shop once every 14 days.  Thank you Clair!  You have made my world run so much more smoothly.