How To: DIY a Laundry Bag

Laundry is a bone of contention at our house at the moment…I mean…how can one task take up SOOOO much of my life?

To ease my headache of ‘the dreaded sort’ we purchased two new bins and labelled them whites and darks….I know… how where we living like heathens before only having ONE bin? That simple addition of two bins has shaved at least 15 minutes off sorting time per load…hooray.

What I needed next was a laundry bag for the bathroom (I use a clean flannel daily and I use reuseable cotton pads that need hot washing) and a delicate bag for the bedroom for undies and whatnot.

Using two 12″ embroidery hoop (yeah…I actually had these lying around), some ribbon and two pillowcases I created two matching laundry bags by trapping the pillowcases in the hoops and attaching a hanging ribbon. These actually lay really flat against the wall so are great for small spaces.

embroidery hoop laundry bag how to pillowcase

This is looped over a hook on the interior of the door so it doesn’t fall down every time we open the airing cupboard.

I tend to take them out of the hoops and whack the whole bag in the wash. It helps keep away nasty pongs…especially from the bathroom one…boys seem to be able to make everything reek….including flannels! How is that possible?

So yeah, we have more laundry bags than people in our house…I’m the same with rubbish bins though…. got to have one in every room! There is probably a name for that right?

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Lasting Til Payday: Why Basics aren’t boring…

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Is your purse heavy with cash? Can you barely shut the zip around the pound coins spilling out of your purse? Nope…. me neither.

I make it my aim in life to spend as little at the supermarket as possible…not for buying from the high street reasons…although I really should frequent our local butcher more often…but for ‘I’m so tight I squeak’ reasons.

I know a lot of people turn their noses up at the supermarkets ‘basic brand’ on the shelves, but we buy them on a regular basis and it keeps our food costs down. Yes, yes, I can already hear you harking that you aren’t poor and you deserve to buy nice honey roast ham….yes you do, so buy it. I’m just saying that there are some basics out there that are just as good as some products you are already buying for less money. We always try them once to test them out, if they are truly rubbish and taste like socks we go up to the next expensive, but if they are alright we stick with it, driving down our bills so we can afford more fun things.

If you cook from scratch there is really no need to buy fancy schamncy peppers when good old basic peppers are STILL peppers…THEY TASTE THE SAME. Come on…let’s not be cuckoo about this.

We shop at Sainsbury’s as it is the  local supermarket to us…and yes, I hear it’s one of the more expensive…but we manage our weekly shop at between £20 – £30 a week for two, which includes treats, and down to £15 a week during the late summer/early autumn when the garden veg kicks in to overdrive!

Here are a few of the Basics that  we buy over and over again.

Basics Chopped Tomatoes – 35p for 400g

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Now come on…. who is really THAT fussy about tinned toms? I love the fact these come in a square carton (much better for cupboard and pantry stacking). Combine with a smidge of garlic found at the back of the cupboard and some pasta for a quick and cheap dish when you are reaching payday. We also buy the basic kidney beans…because they TASTE THE SAME as every other kidney beans…yes…even thouse bought tinned from Waitrose.

Basics Peanut Butter – 65p for 340g

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Oh I DIE! I am a bit of a Peanut Butter fiend and I have tried every jar I can lay my hands on and nothing…nothing is as good for my mass consumption as the Basics Peanut Butter. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s the right combo of smooth and crunchy, it comes in plastic jars that I reuse all over the place and we buy it 5 jars at a time.

Basics Milk/White/Dark Chocolate – 35p for 100g

Best basics to buy (4)I bought this one Christmas as I was in a hurry to make a million christmassy present treats and have never looked back. We don’t buy chocolate bars and whatnot in our house as we would just gorge ourselves on them so these double up as cooking chocolate and as ‘oh my life I may die if I don’t have chocolate’ chocolate. Perfect to dunk in Peanut Butter when I am feeling low and need a Reese’s style hit without the price tag.

Basics Dishwasher Tablets – £1.75 for 30

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I know, I know what you are thinking…. your Finish tablets do an amazing job….well… these get my dishes clean and that is all I’m asking for….and you don’t have to pay a ridiculous price for the privilege….like £9 for 30…that’s crazy. We also buy the cheapest rinse aid and salt…our machine works fine!

Basics Low Fat Fruit Yoghurts – 35p for 4

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We went through a stage of just buying those Wildlife Fromage Frais because they were cute and cheap, but then I thought we’d try these bad boys, and at under 9p a yoghurt, they are actually pretty damn tasty. We load these up and freeze them too….mmmmm…frozen yoghurt…..

Basics Tortilla Chips – 50p for 200g

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We don’t do Doritos…we do tortilla chips. These are nice and salty but can be a bit plain on their own, so we always whack out some sweet chilli sauce or home-made (read flung together) garlic & herb mayonnaise out with them so you can dip….or we make nachos. They are always devoured at every gathering we have.

 

When it coms to buying basics, be brave. Leave your inner snob* at the door and have a try, you might find something worth stocking your cupboards with!

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*Mr Pigeon’s inner snob demands nice toilet paper. My inner snob can’t buy fresh tomatoes from supermarkets as they don’t taste as good as homegrown.

 

 

How To: Make a Tea Towel

For all my hand stitched makes and crochet creations, I am still a bit nervy around my sewing machine. The only lessons I have had on it are from my GCSE Textiles (where I scraped a C….silly girl…I think not embracing my GCSE Textiles is deffo one of my biggest regrets). I feel a lot more confident stitching by hand as I feel I can predict how it is going to come out, and I am still to find and follow a simple dress pattern to make myself something pretty to wear.

What I can do however is whack together simple shapes and make owls and whatnot, so when our friends bought a beautiful new house, I thought I’d make them a housewarming gift….tea towels.

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Isn’t this fabric bloody gorge? I TOTALLY need to lady up and make a 50′s style frock from the remaining fabric….le sigh….

Firstly I measured up using one of my tea towels from the kitchen, ensuring I cut it large enough to be able to fold the seam allowance on itself to ensure a nice clean finish.

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I then ironed…this is the only action my iron ever sees by the way… a sharp crease about 1 cm into the fabric.

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I then folded the seams over on themselves again and ironed again, pinning them together ready for stitching.

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Using a small straight stitch I ran these bad boys swiftly through the machine.

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Ending up with two lovely tea towels with a nice straight edge which took about 15 minutes to make.

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I folded them together and wrapped them with a pretty ribbon, because when fabric looks this fab, why cover it in paper?!

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I’m tempted to make a dozen more…despite the fact we collect tea towels from our holidays rather than souvenirs, so we have about a million!

Have you ever made tea towels?

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What I Wore: London Gathering

What I Wore bannerWhat I wore London rockabilly 50's summer (1)

When I left living in London after 18 months of pretty hardcore immersion and after living in pretty liberal studenty Bournemouth for 3 years, I quickly noticed how conservatively dressed people were living in the ‘burbs. Being a girl with a desperate love for ‘those’ trousers from the last scene of Grease (thank GAWD disco pants have come into fashion…my 80′s rock chick NEEEEEDED those bad boys…) and having a rather large collection of leopard print items, for the first 6 months of living away from the Big Smoke, I capsuled my wardrobe into more outlandish ‘London clothes’ and more introverted ‘Burb clothes’. Thankfully after getting closer to P’s friends, who I now count as my own, I wear whatever the hell I want wherever the hell I want…I think that confidence also comes with age and realisation that I don’t give two hoots.

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We recently high-tailed it back up to London for a friend’s baby announcement, which in hindsight felt quite mean…the mother-to-be sipping on a lemonade whilst the rest of us all got quite merry in the roof terrace of a bar. And this is what I wore…sort of casual rockabilly.

This will probably also be the last WIW with naked shoulder skin as I have an upper arm tattoo planned for my right arm next month…eeeeeeeeek I’m excited! Can’t wait to show you all.

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I struggle to dress for summer, I never want to feel too dressy during the day and a 50′s frock does that to me. Bring back autumn, I have about 30 flannel lumberjack shirts that need wearing STAT!

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A Day in the Life: The Dream Job

As some of you may or may not know, I work weirdy weirdy shifts in my new job and it means that I have random days off during the week. I use those days to work towards pushing forward the business. I thought I’d share a little day in the life of my dream job…I wish every day was like this!

7am

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Argh…I’m awake…even if it is a day off from the real job. Thankfully this guy is normally scrunched up behind my knees and he makes it worth while getting up. yeah, yeah…we are those awful people who let the dog sleep on the bed with us….

My husband also works from home, but he doesn’t normally wake up till 8, so I normally check emails and faff on social media from my iPhone for a while till I can sneak away without waking them.

8am

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I start garden pottering pretty early by collecting the eggs and doing a bit of absent minding weeding, throwing them to the chooks. Sometimes the neighbours even experience me doing this in my jammies…because you know…Wellies and jammies are totally going to be in next season.

Miss Moneypenny tends to lay quite late in the morning so I tend to pop down and collect hers after lunch…lazy mare.

If Mr Pigeon is doing the morning walk with Chekhov, I’ll let the girls free range in the garden whilst the boys are out and I’ll potter about with them clucking all over the garden….them clucking…..not me…that would be weird.

9.30am

ditl

Breakfast time. If you haven’t experienced a Lidl Pain au Chocolat fresh from a 10 sec microwave spin, you have not lived. These bad boys are lush when warm, as discovered by Papa and Stepmumma Pigeon. I normally team this with a glass of juice and eat at the table in the kitchen, whilst making my to-do list for the day. I like to create goals that I would like to complete by the end of the day, not just business stuff, but household chores and whatnot too.

10am

I have normally hit my productive morning stride by now and have a load of washing on the line, have completed a room cleaning spin and have tidied up around the house behind the boys. How is it that men can leave coffee cups and side plates EVERYWHERE? I’m confused by this…

12pm

snail crochet creating day in the life

I spend a lot of my day at my desk creating, either fulfilling orders or replenishing my stock that I take to fairs. I normally fling a box set on my computer to watch as I make, as it stops me getting too distracted on social media. I am awful at looking at Facebook….and I just mean other people’s business pages!

2pm

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After a brief pause for lunch, I crack back on with making and tackling orders. Talking to customers is one of my favourite things to do. I love getting pictures of my creations in their new adoptive homes.

4pm

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Mr Pigeon and I share the dog walks, so I do the afternoon canter about. It’s such a good break from my desk and some fun time with the pooch and rejuggle my thoughts. I have  been known to tap away on my iPhone as we wander round the fields taking orders and sending out confirmations. Sometimes if the day has been particularly heavy, I’ll leave my phone at home and have a full hour break.

6pm

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Dinner time! I normally do the cooking from a meal plan I plan in advance, and I prefer to cook from real ingredients, not from packets or cardboard boxes. I think it gives us so many more options for meals and leftovers that way. This was oven roasted chicken, onions, courgettes and peppers with pasta and red pesto. Yum.

8pm

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On a dream job day, I try and put the business away by 8pm and focus on some personal things. I am currently making a hexagon quilt so I sit down with that and watch a DVD and Mr Pigeon, or I read for a while. Sometimes I am naughty and I don’t put the business away and create new ideas. This is my most creative time for coming up with new things to make….Mr Pigeon thinks of it as danger time….

10pm

Bedtime. I try to shut down the house, room by room, as not to wake up to a mess in the morning…which seems inevitable with a husband like mine…I mean how does he do it?! I take off my slap if I’ve actually put any on…I mean if I’m not seeing real people (ie. not family) I don’t normally bother. We will watch some  history programme in bed…I think I know everything there is to know about World War Two now…. and I’ll set my alarm if I have an early shift the next day.

 

How does your day compare?

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Keeping Chickens in the Eglu Classic

A little while ago you might remember that I mentioned banged on for weeks about my chickens arriving at the Nest and about us stepping bravely into the world of back garden smallholding….just call me Barbara Good.

Eglu Classic review back garden chickens

We got our girls in January, in the middle of that horrid weather and flooding and I had done a LOT of obsessive research about how best to situate these ladies in our back garden. I decided on a plastic hen-house and run combination, because of red mite….a pesky bug that lives in the cracks and crannies of hen housing and sucks the blood of your chooks. Having plastic housing that is quick and easy to clean was going to be a bonus in my already hectic  lifestyle, and they easier it is to clean, the less chance red mite have of settling in.

I decided to situate them in a fixed position on the old concrete base of the asbestos shed that we had removed last year…I know…who makes a ruddy shed out of asbestos eh? We’ve pinned the run down using some old fence posts that were replaced during all the storms. Waste not want not in this house!

Our chooks run floor is covered in hardwood chips which I have to buy in…I tried softwood, but it just rots down too quick. Hardwood chips can be washed and chucked back in, which means we spend less! We also check the weather ALL THE TIME now, if rain is forecast I go and cover the run with the clear Omlet run cover and a bit of tarp….chickens have the same consistency as the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz….ok…they don’t melt, but the run gets pretty grotty if it gets wet.

Eglu Classic review back garden chickens

Omlet, who make the Eglu, seemed to be the best company out there, and I loved the smooth rounded design…it reminded me of a hobbit hole…also they hold their value and they seem pretty indestructible when it comes to knocks and bruises. We bought ours 3rd hand from a couple of die-hard chickeneers (they’d gone from 6 chooks to 500!) and updated it by buying new bits from the Omlet website as the Classic design is still running strong. I reckon I could flog ours in 3 years and still make back what I paid.

Don’t misjudge how big they are though…I managed to SQUEEEEEZE it into our teeny tiny Aygo, but with much brute force and ignorance. You need an real car and not a glorified rollerskate to go and collect one of these bad boys….however if you buy new from Omlet they deliver, along with your chickens if you are in their chicken radius!

Our day-to-day chicken routine takes me 10 minutes at most. I check they have enough food and water for the day, I whack on some rubber gloves and try to pick out any poop I can spot, I give the hardwood chips a rake over and I collect the eggs. It’s all quite glamourous I can assure you.

When I am doing a full deep clean…which I only do once every 6 weeks or so, it takes me around 45 minutes from start to finish (and that includes drying time!). The best thing I have found is that I can pressure wash it!

I used hand ripped paper for the nest box as this was something we had kicking around for free. Junk mail, old receipts and old magazines are a firm staple for our chicken bedding. It doesn’t take as much time to rip all the paper as you might think. We are now in the habit of ripping stuff up before it goes into the bin so it takes a few seconds!

Eglu Classic review back garden chickens

The Eglu has a removable dropping tray, which some people line with wood shavings, but I line it with junk mail and old magazine pages. They soak up the poop nicely and then I can tip the lot into the composter once a week. Easy peasy. I then just reline it and slot it back in! Hurrah! If it has got a bit filthy it takes two minutes to rinse and then can be left in the sun to dry…which takes about 5 minutes. Easy.

Eglu Classic review back garden chickens

We never close our pophole during the week, but on a Friday and Saturday night we do shut them in overnight as our girls like to have a good old squawk at around 8am, and we feel bad for our neighbours trying to get a lie in on a weekend!

Most of the time they are pretty quiet. They like perching on the old washing up bowl I have popped in there and pecking through whatever garden goodies I have thrown in.

Eglu Classic review back garden chickens

The Omlet Glug and Grub are the food and water containers and they function mightly well. They hook to the run wall leaving floor space empty.  The best thing about the Glug is you can fill it from a watering can through the bars meaning you don’t have to have it right up the end of the run, which gives your chooks a little more space I think.

Whenever I am home, I try to get the chickens out for a bit of a free-range around the garden. Chekhov still thinks they are exciting chew toys so has to be kept away when they are out and about. He has however improved amazingly with them being in the run. He almost ignores them completely now and has protected them from several nosey cats!

I don’t think I could be swayed to change to another form of hen keeping now…except for upgrading to a Eglu Cube for expansion! :D

Have you ever thought about keeping chickens? The eggs are bloomin marvellous!

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House of Jack

As my regular readers will know, I run my very own small business, The Pigeon’s Nest, making whimsical woodland themed gifts and toys…and as much as I love running my small business, what I love more is being part of a really supportive and lovely community of other small business owners. They are a lovely bunch…that is a factoid.

I recently won a giveaway by the wonderful House of Jack, and the fabulous Kat, who runs House of Jack day to day, as well as illustrating and designing her prints,  sent me the most gorgeous print of my choice!

I mean…I was excited before I even opened it…look how gorgeous her labels are!

House of jack address label

I chose this blackboard style Kissing print. Kat personalised it for us, which she does with the majority of her prints, and it now hangs proudly above our staircase.

House of Jack personalised print Kissing

I love it! I have my beady little bird eye on some of her other cool prints too…one for each room isn’t too many is it?

What also endears me is that this shiny small business is run from Grandma Pigeon’s hometown of Goole! Made me grin when I noticed that!

Pop over and see Kat and House Of Jack on Etsy, Facebook and her website.

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