Friday, January 31, 2014

Improving Listed Properties and Period Homes--Guest Post

Today I am welcoming a Guest Post by Peter Boucher.  Thank you Peter!
A Top Tip for Improving Listed Properties and Period Homes

One of the best ways in which you can improve on your home is to make it more eco friendly, and this will allow you to save on energy and reduce your bills, whilst at the same time saving the environment. This is of course something that all home owners want to do, and on top of all this making your home eco friendly also makes it more attractive to buyers if you ever decide to sell. One of the best ways in which you can reduce your energy bills is through insulation, and this is a wise investment that could save you around £400 on your energy bills each year, so you can see why so many people are now looking at cavity and loft insulation.


Insulation is great because it keeps your house warm during the cold winter nights, and then during the summer it keeps it nice and cool. This is achieved because the tiny pockets of air minimise the amount of heat that passes through the layer, so in the winter the heat stays inside whilst in the summer it will be outside. There are a few different types of insulation, and the best kind for you will depend on the type of property you own. If you live in a listed property or one with special architectural features then options like external wall insulation and loft insulation will not work well for you, but there is one type which is perfect and will help to drastically reduce your energy bills.


Save a Huge Amount Each Year

This is known as internal wall insulation, and this is particularly good as it will not alter the outside of your property. This is the reason why lots of period properties and listed properties are opting for internal wall insulation, and with companies like Mark Group you could save around £460 each year. This is a huge amount, and this makes it the smart investment to make as it will not take too long to pay for itself, and you will of course be helping to save the planet too.


For any listed property looking to improve on their home then this is the best way as it will reduce your bills, save the environment, and make your home a pleasant place to be no matter if it is the middle of winter or on a hot summers day.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Placemat Pillow for $2.50

I was in HomeGoods yesterday and wandering...  Oh, I absolutely love wandering through that store! 
I found these placemats on clearance. 
Even though I thought they were great looking placemats, I decided they'd work even better as pillows.
I thought about pulling my sewing machine out, but decided to try them by hand.  I could always rip it out if it didn't look right. 
I turned the placemats right side facing each other, then just kept the edges really straight and stitched away. 
I left about 6" unstitched so I could fill it with batting. 
Once I filled it, I stitched up the last 6" and now have a great looking pillow.  I had the batting on-hand, so each pillow cost me $2.50.  I'd call it a success!  :)

Thank you for your visit!
I am linking to the following parties:


Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home

DIY Show Off

Friday, January 24, 2014

Home Security--Guest Post

Today I am welcoming Vickie Bailey with a Guest Post on Home Security.  Thank you Vickie!

Improving Your Home’s Security in Winter

You would think in winter that burglars would be less active. The cold and inclement weather, the often treacherous pavements and roads – none of these things add up to a particular pleasant or easy experience for anyone outside in winter. But the fact that it gets dark so early is a major contributing factor towards crime levels rising in winter. In addition, the festive season, with its influx of presents and consumer items, means that residential areas can become prime picking grounds for determined individuals who are set upon making their way into your home.

It should then be clear that with the onset of winter should come an added incentive for assessing and improving your home’s security. Here are some simple measure which you can take to make sure you and your family have a safe and uneventful Christmas.

The Perimeter

Your home’s perimeter is the first point of entry, and should therefore be your first point of assessment. If you have a fence, make sure it’s sturdy, has no holes, and will stand up to the winter winds. If you have a hedge, use a stick to search for holes and other weak points where entry might be gained. If your hedge isn’t very high, it might be worth installing a fence as well. If you have a gate, make sure to replace your gate lock at suitable intervals in order to prevent rust, and to prevent repeat prowlers from figuring out how to get around it.

Many people also use lighting to protect their home’s perimeter. This is a great choice if your home as no fencing or hedge around it. Motion sensor lights are a great way to detect movement on your property, and most are sensitive enough so that they won’t pick up the movements of small animals and birds.

Inside Your Home

Perhaps the most important element of your home security is your alarm system. Schedule regular tests to make sure it’s working properly, and replace your system at least every two years. Having a warning light attached to the outside of your home can act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.

Double check all of the locks on your doors and windows, and make sure to never leave any valuables lying around. These can include car keys and electrical items, as well as jewelry and money. If you’ve put up your Christmas tree, make sure to pull your curtains at night and switch off the tree lights, as these can be easily identified through material. In addition, check all of the glass in your doors and windows to make sure that they’re secure and unlikely to crack.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sucré King Cake Giveaway!

Have you ever tried a Sucré  King Cake?  Oh my goodness!  They are delicious!  I recently received one to try and was so delighted.  When it arrived, it looked glittery and festive.  It even came with Mardi Gras beads.  :)    I had never tried one before, so wasn't sure what to expect.  I took it to work so I could share it with a lot of people, and consequently, get lots of feedback.

King Cakes, sold each year from Kings' Day, January 6, to Mardi Gras Day – are a unique tradition in New Orleans, a city that embraces unique tradition.
It’s hard to speak of New Orleans without mentioning Mardi Gras and the Carnival season leading up to it. And every New Orleanian knows that you can’t truly experience Mardi Gras until you've savored a King Cake.
The king cake is enjoyed in many forms all over the world, but nothing compares to this authentic treat straight out of New Orleans. It’s a sweet, glazed cinnamon pastry designed in beautiful purple, green and gold tones – the official colors of Mardi Gras – best shared with friends and loved ones. Anyone who has spent any time in this great city will tell you, you just can’t get the real thing anywhere else.

New Orleanians love a good king cake, and will take every opportunity to partake – at parties, at the office, at parades, everywhere! Since they are only available for such a short period, these cakes are highly sought after during that time. Today, instead of looking for a bean, you’ll be searching for a small plastic baby trinket, which can be found under or in the kings cake.
If you find the baby, you’ll be crowned king – or queen – for the day. This not only ensures your fortune for a year, it also sometimes means you'll receive certain privileges. For example, if the cake is eaten at work, your coworkers might have to treat you to lunch.
In some traditions, being crowned king or queen also comes with responsibilities. It means it's your turn to buy the next cake!

I must say, this cake was delicious!  It's a light and buttery pastry with a sweet cream cheese filling.  There is cinnamon and sugar on top.  It was a huge hit at work.  People got quite a kick out of the 'baby' and beads.  One guy came back FOUR times for more cake!  He even asked if he could take the last two pieces home. 
Do you want to enjoy your own authentic Mardi Gras celebration? Then enter here to win a delicious Sucré King Cake!
Joanne is the Winner of the  Sucré King Cake! Thank you to everyone who entered.
To enter:
Please leave a comment on this post.
You must be a follower of my blog.
Open to the contiguous US only.
I will be choosing a winner on Thursday, January 23, 2014.
Thank you for your visit and good luck on the giveaway!
I received a Sucre King Cake to review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Home Wiring--Guest Post

Today I am welcoming Peter Boucher with a Guest Post on Home Wiring.  Thank you Peter for this very helpful information!

Getting Started with Home Wiring

Home wiring is one of those jobs which most people will say is best left to the experts. It’s not that home wiring is particularly difficult, over complicated or time consuming. Rather, it’s the potential for danger which makes the majority of people cautious about doing their own wiring. Whereas with other jobs there is always a risk of injury, with wiring there is a heightened risk of something much worse happening if you get it wrong.

Nonetheless, many people happily carry out their own home wiring projects every year, with plenty of success and very few accidents. The key element seems to be respect. If you respect the capacity of electricity to do you real harm and go about your home wiring jobs accordingly, you are much more likely to stay safe.

The Tools You Will Need

As with any job, you will need a certain set of tools for carrying out your own home wiring. These include, but are not limited to:

-          Wire Pliers: These handy pliers come in two varieties, flat-jawed and needle nose. Wire pliers come with a built in wire cutter.

-          Screwdrivers: Your usual set should have a good range, but make sure it definitely includes at least a large head and small head in each of your slotted and flat head varieties.

-          A Circuit Tester: This will help you to find out where you need to turn off your power source.

-          A Power Quality Tester: This will help you to figure out what’s causing your tools or appliances to degrade or fail.

-          Electrical Tape: Check for the UL rating before you buy

-          Wire Nuts: Again, go for good quality nuts and always check the label for ratings/recommendations.

Staying Safe

When working with electricity it’s advisable that you take as many precautions as possible to keep yourself safe. Working with good quality tools is one of them, and wearing protective gear is another. Understanding insulation will help you to make wise choices with regards to both tools and clothing. For example, only ever use wire pliers which have insulated handle grips, and make sure you are wearing shoes with insulating material – such as rubber – on the soles. This is because when electricity passes through you it will be looking for a way to ground. If it can’t ground, it will be much less dangerous.

Do Your Research & Go Slow

The best way to understand your home wiring is to pick up a manual, which can explain in detail the different types of wiring, circuitry and power in your home. It’s never advisable to jump in when working with electricity. Take your time, and remember that a professional is only a phone call away.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Picture This!

I have loved old cameras for a long time, but never came across any for sale--until recently.
I was in a local shop a few weeks ago and found this one.  It came with a leather case, flash, etc.  Very fun! And it's in great shape.
As collections get started, you just need one, then the floodgates seem to open.  :)  I was on our local Craigslist the other day and someone was selling two old cameras.  He was very apologetic that he didn't think either of these were still in working condition.  (I wasn't expecting them to be) 
He thought this one was from the early 1900's.  I love that it is pretty ragged looking, but still has so many great characteristics.

He thought this one was from the 1950's.  It does close up nicely, but I plan to leave it open.

I love the little tabs that come out of the bottom to straighten them out.  I assume it was to keep the camera steady, but I'm more concerned about displaying them.  :)

Ok, now I've got a collection!  My husband is thrilled!  haha. 

Have you started any new collections lately? 
Thanks for your visit.

I am linking to the following parties:


Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home

DIY Show Off

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hardwood Floors--Guest Post

Today I am welcoming Vickie Bailey with a Guest Post about Hardwood Floors.  I absolutely LOVE our hardwood floors and appreciate the advice here.  Thanks Vickie!

How to Maintain a Hardwood Floor

A well maintained hardwood floor is a thing of beauty. Not only do hardwood floors look stunning on their own merits, but they’re also capable of perfectly complementing almost any home interior design scheme. It’s no wonder that they’ve remained such a popular choice with homeowners over the years. Modern companies such as The Reclaimed Flooring Company exist solely to provide house proud homeowners with the wide selection of hardwood flooring styles that are so in demand today.

However, despite how amazing they look, a great many homeowners still choose to cover up their hardwood floors with laminate or carpet. Why would they do such a thing? It’s simple. Hardwood floors require a very special kind of maintenance to keep them looking wonderful. And if you don’t put the time and effort into maintaining a hardwood floor, before too long it will lose its natural lustre.

Basic Cleaning

All floors need a basic amount of cleaning, and this goes double for hardwood flooring. To make sure you’re cleaning your hardwood floor to an adequate standard, it’s always helpful if you implement a simple cleaning regime which you can refer to on a regular basis. First dust your floor with a soft mop, making sure to use a dusting agent which will pick up any stubborn bits of hair or dirt. Every other week, use a vacuum cleaner on your floor for extra intensity, and once a week go over your floor with a disposable dusting cloth.

Deep Cleaning

Your hardwood floor will also require a regular deep clean, to ensure that stubborn materials, such as oil and dirt, are removed completely. This will necessitate the use of a special wood cleaning product. Make sure to choose one which is compatible with your type of flooring. If in doubt, ask a store assistant to help you or get in touch with the company who supplied your flooring in the first instance. First dust as normal, then apply the product. Damp mop, then rinse, and make sure not to stand on your floor when it is still wet.

Stubborn Stains and Marks

If your floor is looking a little scuffed, you may wish to attempt to remove these marks. Do so carefully, and by hand, unless you want to run the risk of permanently damaging your flooring. Certain products will easily get rid of surface stains, but if the stain has penetrated further don’t be tempted to go after it with sandpaper or harsh chemicals, which will irreparably damage your floor. Consult with a professional and, if in doubt, leave it alone. Sometimes the beauty of a hardwood floor lies just as much in the story of its existence – stains and all – as it does in how it looked brand new.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pottery Barn Museum Flag Knock Off

When I received the latest Pottery Barn catalog, I noticed this neat looking wooden flag.  Very nice and $159!  Hmmm, that looks like something we could make...

We started with some plywood, pine and fence boards. 

I painted the structure with Americana Buttermilk, then added a brown antiquing gel that I rubbed off.  I used Midnight Blue under the stars and watered down Tomato Red for the stripes. 

I found this stencil at Michael's and used it for the stars.


I used this hammer to beat up the stripes.

We used a biscuit joiner to attach the pole. 

We used this old doorknob as the finial.

I'm loving how it looks in the family room.
And especially love the $10 that it cost to make!

Thank you for your visit.
I am linking to the following parties:


Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home

DIY Show Off

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Closet Makeover with Only Hangers! And a Giveaway!

I recently helped my good friend with a closet makeover.  She now loves having a pretty, organized closet to work with as well as all that prettiness to look at each morning and night.  :)

She started with this.  It was ok.  It's a little closet and there are a lot of clothes and shoes that need to fit in it. 

We started by emptying all of the hanging clothes.  After this picture was taken, we added a center bracket as the pole was drooping after many years of clothes hanging on it without a middle support.  Now we know it's secure.
The only change is that we got rid of some purses that were on the top shelf and changed out her modge podge of wire, plastic and yarn wrapped hangers to these new beauties from Only Hangers!  Oh my gosh they are well made!  They have smooth wood, are not too heavy, yet are extremely sturdy.  They have notches for hanging straps and a non-slip sleeve of vinyl over the bar for slacks.  So many great details in a hanger!


(and after!)

Not only did she benefit from a new and beautiful way to hang her clothes, but you can too! 
Only Hangers! has offered one of my readers $100 in hangers from their website! 
The winner is Jessica.  Thank you to everyone who entered!
How do you enter?  Easy!
You must be a follower of my blog AND
Go to  Only Hangers! then come back here and leave a comment telling me which hangers you would choose if you are the winner.
"Like" Only Hangers! on Facebook.  Come back and leave a comment that you did.  You will find the "Like" button right on their site.

I will be choosing a winner on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.
Thank you for visiting and good luck!

I received hangers to review from Only Hangers!  My opinions are my own.

I am linking to the following parties:

Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home

DIY Show Off