Wednesday, 1 December 2010
So now, we are enjoying having heating, warm carpets and a bathroom we can be proud of. Year 1 has definately been expensive and testing, but we made it and we hope that year two will bring less DIY and more fun and enjoying adventures!
I will soon also update you all about my new cashback guide, it will be much easier to get the information and see which sites are best - please see the right hand side menu for now for the sites I have currently listed and the basic technique.
Stay warm and i will blog again soon when I have an update on the next stage!
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Great to have your comments and as promised here is a little more about what we have been up to– my update today covers lots as you will see!
We have now completely sanded down the banister – the layers of gloss on there over the years were pure hell buut I am so pleased to have it fully stripped back now. Here are my suggestions for anyone looking to do a similar job!
1) Make sure that if you are trying to remove gloss, you use either a paint stripper or a mechanical sander with quite high abrasiveness. I used paint stripper then tried to sand the rest by hand – impossible with gloss! The paint stripper is a gel that can be brushed on, left for around 30 seconds, then scraped off. Cover the floor with newspaper and definately, definayely used gloves and cover all your skin, this is nasty stuff so open windows too. Make sure you use an old tin can, I washed out an old cat food tin, and an old brush for the gel. Once you have stripped all the goo of and it is dry, clean it down with white spirit.
2) Use a fine level of abrasiveness for the final sanding – I chose to do this by hand as the banister is pine, so needed a gentle touch not to dent the soft wood or remove too much.
3) You can stain the wood if you want to show the grain more. I may do this, though I am torn as I have also head that oiling it is good – I am not sure of the difference but I have stain, whereas I don’t have wood oil! Have also heard a lot about waxing, I have some beeswax at home which I have used for some other furniture. However have also heard that waxing is no good for areas that may get wet and as the bannister is near the bathroom it may be people have wet hands after washing, so I may have to oil the wood instead of waxing.
Any recommendations greatly received!
Our other project has been our bathroom, this started as a small job to simply replace the bathroom suite which was avocado… and has now turned into a full bathroom refit! Needless to say we were not expecting to pay for this level of work, these things just have a way of creeping up on you, each decision you make can lead to more expensive decisions. Be warned!
What we have learned from this is that:
1) Get at least 3 quotes from reputable traders from a site like checkatrade.co.uk. Try to use local companies, as they will charge less generally as there is less travel. Sometimes an out of town company may charge less if they have other jobs in the area the same week for example. Also worth getting contractor quotes for the whole job (they will do all the sub work too), then getting individual quotes for plubming, tiling, plastering etc and seeing which works out cheaper for you overall. Depends how much time you have as well because if you hire various different people for different jobs you will have to be more involved.
2) Once all quotes are in, don’t always go for the absolute cheapest – are they busy? Have they done this sort of work before? Just in chatting to them do you get the feeling they may take shortcuts? Of course it’s hard to foresee everything but some will charge little on the basis that they are in and out with little regard for details or your actual needs.
3) Always, always know the measurements and details of work before they arrive to quote. Give each person the same brief, so that when costs come back you are comparing like for like. We did not do this and with each contractor we learnt more, so by the end we had a better idea of what we actually needed, and so then called the first two to add more detail for a more comprehensive quote. Knowing the square footage for the tiling we wanted for example would have saved us time, and given us more accurate costs for the tiles.
4) Find out how long the job will take and when they will need access, how will you get keys to them, or will you take time off? If they are reliable they can perhaps collect keys from you the night before, and if you end up taking time off, factor this in as a cost, as you would surely have preferred to be having a nice day out instead!
5) Don’t walk into the big DIY warehouses and buy all your fittings and accessories. Take your time and plan ahead. We have bought only basic materials from there, flooring came from ebay, the bath panel came from another online company, taps came from another and the shower screen from ebay. A custom mirror and glass shelf will be bought locally for just £85, a fraction of ready made ones and these are custom size for our bathroom. We are also considering making our own bathroom cabinet, as these can be so expensive. If we make our own, it will fit our bathroom much better (we hope!) and make use of all available space, a premium in a small bathroom.
6) For finishes in a small bathroom, use mirrors, gloss furniture, pale colours and chrome if you can. This means not only light is reflected but also that the look can stay timeless, and you can just change towels/accessories to update it.
To save cash we are doing our own tiling, this saves around £240 in labour costs. Sure it may not be as perfect but we will have to live with that for the savings, and let’s face it, any improvement on the old bathroom is better than nothing! These will be plain white tiles, 40cm x 25cm, in a brick style layout.
So there you have it, I will hopefully add picks next time but as Flickr have changed how images can be used, I will have to find a new way to show you our latest adventures!
Please share your comments, thoughts and tips so we can all learn how to save cash and improve homes on a shoestring x
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Sorry for the delay - busy few weeks, more DIY and also work aplenty!
I promise to update soon and hope everyone is well - my latest project is the stair bannister and redoing the bathroom, which we are obviously trying to do as frugally as possible...
Monday, 9 August 2010
The old set of chairs was purchased second hand and had red coverings but the wadding is very worn which makes sitting in the chairs uncomfortable.
I bought the material, pad and wadding from Dunhelm Mill which is a large household and fabric store. It was lovely to choose the material ourselves rather than buy a modern and expensive chair where this had been decided for us. We chose a thick material which allows more wear and chose a colour which we felt added light to the room and also worked with our table.
It took me around 1 hour as I was unfamiliar with the process but I think now around 45 minutes per chair will do, I might even finish off the pads next weekend.
The next project after that will be to tone down the varnish on all the chairs as I feel it is currently too dark and that make them feel more natural which I think will finish them off nicely.
Some light sandpaper then wire wool and possibly a light varnish may do the trick - I will need to research thoroughly first!
So now not only do we have more comfortable chairs, we also have lighter and prettier chairs for around 4 hours work - roll on next weekend so I can finish them off!
Sunday, 1 August 2010
I also had some spare satin finish knobs, from when we bought knobs from ebay for the kitchen, so I replaced the small pine knobs that were on the unit with new shiny satin ones which look much nicer.
It is a very basic makeover, but cost nothing whatsoever apart from carrying the unit home and spending some time on it.
The bathroom is now decluttered and brighter as the unit has a mirror and is white so I'm very pleased with the results!
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
The door fittings came from ebay, ex MFI stock, and by buying in bulk, we were able to get them very inexpensively compared to standard DIY store prices.
Other progress is that we have obtained a full bathroom suite from Freecycle, white and fairly modern, completely free. This will be our next project as soon as money allows, possibly late Autumn, as our current suite is avocado green. It has saved us at least £200 on the main fittings, so we'll now keep an eye out for tiles at our local stores that are not too expensive. Of course if something suitable crops up on Freecycle that would be amazing too!
We have obtained a bathroom mirrored single cabinet for free from a house that was gutting their bathroom, it was in fairly poor condition inside but after a wash was acceptable. I then covered the shelves with some nice Cath Kidston paper and for now it's certainly much better than it was, and better than having nowhere to put things in! This would have cost at least £15.
Left you can see our crab apples have started to blush - we have no idea what to do with them! They are edible so hubby has started to take them to work, saving us around £1.50 per week, but I will look online for recipes as to what we can make.
Any recommendations for recipes, and indeed care of a crab apple tree? We are learning so much this year, it's hard to keep up with ourselves!
My next (small) project will be to repaint a Welsh dresser we purchased for £40. I will post pictures soon to ask for your inspiration and advice. My ideal result would be something like this (on right), which I saw a very talented MSE member complete on the Shabby Chic thread!
It looks amazing and I can only hope for such a result - only thing is I worry about the cost of paint and varnish - I guess it may cost around £30 but then at least we will have something we love - right now the pine colour is not my favourite!
Thanks for reading and do post your thoughts and comments, I will post another update very soon with hopefully a finished kitchen!
Thursday, 15 July 2010
We have been able to do a lot in our new home these past few months, but not only is it a costly time but so tiring as well! You also learn how inadequate you can feel when DIY is daunting... however it's a great learning curve. My next project is to re-cover some £5 wooden chairs we bought second hand, then repaint a bathroom, all as inexpensively as we can to try and claw back some of what we have spent.
My next post will hopefully show some recovered chairs with before and after shots, and some re-painted bathroom - with before and after shots too! However I know I need to finish off the kitchen first - still a few doors to go, so some elbow grease and a final push needed.
Does anyone else here have some porojects on the go - or planned for the future?
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Saturday, 13 March 2010
- BidNip - This site saves me alot, it is a site that will bid for ebay auctions on your behalf. I am terrible for wanting to 'Buy Now' and this costs lots more money than waiting until a normal auction ends and bidding the normal way. So I do reecommend if you use ebay, sign up to BidNip. You place your maximum bid and let them remember to bid for you. It saves you waiting to the last minute and then getting carried away with bidding. Their 'snipe' can go in seconds before the auction ends. As an example, I was paying £1.70 for 1 door handle on normal Buy It Now auctions, but I used BidNip (and some patience in havoing to wait!) and reduced the handle cost to £0.80p - a 50% saving.
- Boffer.co.uk - A site that has a daily deal, listed at 11:59 every night and once sold out, that's usually it. They do run occasional special offers where they extend the deal.
- FirstDirect.com - Believe it or not, yes, your bank an save you time. Time equates to money, so that's why it's on this list. I can pay bills and never have to queue - I can call them at 3am, any day of the year. I can post cheques to pay in. It's rare to love a bank, but I do love mine.
- Amazon.co.uk - Associates programme - You can earn money from books or 2nd hand items through this programme, sometimes it is better than ebay as Amazon pay a fixed postage amount. I have sometimes bought 5 books for £2 for example at boot fairs, then listed each book on Amazon at £0.01, making some cash on the Amazon fixed postage. Not much if you always list at £0.01 but sometimes you will list a book for more, which is when it really counts. I did this alot for the Moneysavingexpert.com challenge "Make money from nothing" and it worked really well. You start off by selling items you have already got at home or were given and the money you make from that, you invest in other items, so you never spend 'real' money from your pocket. I made over £400 in that challenge and learnt alot. One Chanel book was £0.20p and sold for £9!
- Moneysavingexpert.com - This one goes without saying! The Wednesday e-mail is essential and will keep you updated on all sorts.
- Paypal - Most of us already have an account but if you don't, it can really change how you make payments and save alot of time. No more bank transfers, international payments, converting currency. Any time you can save converts to cash in other ways as you can focus on other moneysaving.
- Online Calculators & Time Savers:
Pleasures V Treasures
WhichBook - Can prevent you from that quick impulse book buy!
Mortgage Overpayment Calculator
FixtureFerrets.co.uk - This site can save you lots of cash on your supermarket shop. Find out who has the best deals before you even go there - well worth signing up for.
So there you have it - what sites do you recommend? See my other articles on moneysaving websites.
Also as Spring approaches, might be a good time to review my Spring Money Saving tips article
Sunday, 28 February 2010
I spent the day doing this and here are some examples:
- Thai money from an old holiday - £3 worth
- Dollars from an old holiday - £4 worth
- Books that I will try to sell on Amazon - £4 worth
- Books that I can't sell online as a bit tatty - £2 worth
- Collectible items I bought for selling on ebay but haven't done yet - £8 minimum or £16 max if they actually sell
- Clothes I keep meaning to put on E-bay - £6 worth
- Cash in an old savings account I keep meaning to draw down £0.90
- Small radio brand new that I need to sell - £4
- Old kitchen handles - selection - that I could sell - £2
- Next voucher I keep meaning to use but always forget to take into town - £10
- Kitten accessories we no longer need as our kitten is a teenager cat now - £5
- Old computer we could sell for spares - £10
So there you have it - around £61, and that's the things we *know* we have.
As Spring approaches - is there an empty box you can start filling for e-bay, or a car boot sale?
Maybe that cash could then be used to buy something in Spring at a discount that will come in handy for Winter for example. Anything bought now in the sales, or obtained free, could save money for the future. Question is - what to buy!
I think I will start to make a list so I can keep an eye out for things we will need later this year as our tule in the new home is to buy as much either cheap or second hand as we can... or even better - free! This week we got a free poster on Freecycle, so that's a start!
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Even if we said £0.30 it's still a huge saving and it's freshly made compared to a tube of the stuff packed with preservatives and all sorts of other stuff.
The reality is, most toothpaste these days has a) sodium Laureth Sulphate which many people prefer to avoid, and b) Fluoride which can supposedly be toxic.
So making your own is not only better for health but also for your pocket, as you can make some from fresh for pennies. Will it have the same brand factor as Colgate? No. Will it look as exciting as stripy mint fresh? Probably not. However, next time I run out I am prepared to give it a go, as our current £2.99 Tom's of Maine toothpaste is fluoride free but it's also very expensive...
So here's the source website:
And here's their suggested recipe if anyone wants to test it our and report back with results:
Ingredients to make toothpaste
For this gentle toothpaste, you will need:
6 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. salt
4 tsp. glycerin
15 drops of peppermint oil
The baking soda works to whiten and cleanse your teeth. The salt has the same effect as an antiseptic, cleaning the teeth. Glycerin is a base to help with flavoring and make the mixture thick and creamy. The peppermint is used for flavoring and to provide fresh breath.
Combine the ingredients in a small storage container. Stir the mixture until it forms a thick consistency. This natural toothpaste can be used daily, just like other toothpastes. Store at room temperature in a plastic storage container or jar.
Put a small amount of the toothpaste on your toothbrush. Begin at the back of your mouth and go forward. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes.
I still have a couple of tubes of om's toothpaste left, but the money saving bug is calling on me to try this recipe very soon as I like the fact that it would have no SLS.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
OK so we've all been through the January 'must get fitter' phase, which includes the 'I will eat so much more fruit and veg' and 'definitely no chocolates'. Well, this week I have been reading up about, of all things, coconut oil.
Strange but true – this seems to be one of the latest super foods that does wonders for the body. Apparently, the structure of coconut oil is very different to the other oils we cook with, making it much easier to digest. This means that as your body is working less to digest it, you digest food quicker, which helps metabolise faster thus losing weight for some people. I won't go into the technicalities, but the suggestion seems to be to consume between 1-3 tablespoons a day in varying ways – cooking with it being the easiest, followed by shakes and spreads on toast (ok but my main preference).
The other great thing is that it is meant to do wonders for anyone with a sluggish thyroid, as anything that speeds up metabolism helps. So cutting out the other types of fats (vegetable oil, soya oil, corn oil etc) and replacing them with coconut oil overall is a great change apparently. Supposedly soya oil has now been found to be one of the least beneficial, and indeed suppresses some of the body functions, sometimes on ingredient lists it is merely shown as 'vegetable oil'.
You can still enjoy extra virgin olive oil and organic butter in moderation, but all other fats seem to have had 'human involvement' and extremely high temperatures rather than someone pressing the oil out of them. Supposedly once the fats get into the body, the oxidise (rust) in your cells, wheareas a more natural fat like coconut doesn't and in fact helps the body along with lots of processes (the liver benefits a lot).
It is a natural antibacterial product and can also help with digestive products.
It goes without saying that you can then use the coconut oil in beauty regimes – it works really well as a make-up remover (rub some between hands and once melted delicately apply to eye area, then remove with a damp warm cloth). Also for full beauty treatments, melt some in hands, massage on face and leave for 2-30 minutes depending on skin condition, then remove with a damp warm cloth. In the shower you might also use it as a body treat for soft skin,
A small amount can also be applied to lips as a lip balm.
Apply to hands and once melted apply to ends of hair and work up to around half the length of the hair. Wrap hair up in a towel and leave for an hour or overnight, then rinse out with some shampoo.
I imagine it could also be used to make soap, perhaps combining it with dessicated coconut or ground almonds for an exfoliating treat. It is so natural and so good for skin, plus would add a scent of the tropics to your shower. A few drops of lime might add a nice zing…
Buying coconut oil
If you buy some, a large jar will cost around £7 but can of course serve more than 1 purpose. I would also recommend you buy it in a glass jar rather than plastic. It should keep well for 2-3 years if kept cool and in the dark.
Make sure you buy Extra Virgin/Raw or cold pressed – this means that no bleaching / high temperatures were applied to extract the good stuff.
Whilst some may be skeptic, I am going to give it a go – have had some for a few days now and my energy is up but this may just be because the sun is out and Valentines is coming!
Lots of people on Youtube swear by it so see these links for more information to make up your own mind or type 'coconut oil benefits' for example into Youtube:
A study on coconut vs Soya oil:
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
As you know, I love cashback clicking - it's a free way to earn a few pennies regularly, for free, that at the end of the year you can use towards something nice. For me, it's almost always free food and booze at Christmas.
Well I now have a new site for you to click on and add to your daily routine - do see the Cashback menu on the right for other sites you might like to look at and consider using.
Thin Cheese Cashback Site
Link: Click here to join
This is a sister site to the great FatCheese Clicking Site and both of them offer great ways to earn cash for free (by clicking), or for buying things you were going to buy anyway. Examples of these are below:
- Sky+ gets you £100 cashback!
- Hastings Direct Car Insurance £46.50 + FREE £30 Fuel vouchers + half price MOT
- T-Mobile £35.00 for phone contract
- Synovate. £1.50 cashback when you register.
- Coral - if you sign up to Coral, get £10 cashback instead of £5 by following my link above.
- Bingo Day - £45 Cashback - sealed with the FatCheese Guarantee!
These offers change, but ised in combination with Daily Clicks as shown on my Routine, van earn a tidy sum over a year.
My recommendation though would be to only join 2 or 3 sites to start, until you get a feel for it.
As an example, I have earned £6.50 cashback for free from a Vistaprint order I wanted to place anyway, and in a few months will earn roughly £30 for changing gas and electric to a new supplier, something we had in mind already.
I hope thi shelps you save some cash in 2010 towards a treat, debt reduction, or Christmas - enjoy!
Sunday, 10 January 2010
I do hope you had fantastic Christmas and new year. 2010 is truly upon us now!
I have had no time to write really as we are still settling in, and with no furniture and no gas heating, the cold and needing household items have taken priority. However, we are not going to rush.
The rule for our new home is - unless we love it, it won't be brought into the house. So we'd rather wait and take time to buy than rush on grabbing things this month. It means we will have to do without for a while but also means we will be more careful. No more buying something that 'will do for now', as we'll have a home full of things that are just 'OK' and we will end up giving away.
The garden will need some attention soon, and it will be an amazing feeling when I have time to actually look out there and learn what needs to be done.
Any tips from folk on here as to what I can do in January/February garden wise would be awesome, and of course any other tips for a new home.
So my next post will no doubt be on some of our new experiences as we start to furnish the place, get bargains and start to hopefully cook more and utilise the space better (as currently it's a mess!).
Have a great end of weekend and hopefully I can do some blog reading and drop by your blogs soon, now the whole move is over!