Inexpensive Upcycle of a Wicker Drawer Stand

I had a touch of luck when I came across wicker drawers for free on Facebook Marketplace. We had been looking for something similar for a while, and although the colour didn’t match our scheme, I quickly went to collect them. I couldn’t pass up a freebie. I also managed to get a free basket at the same time, but that will be another upcycle post in the near future.

My husband and I decided to keep the baskets as they are, but paint the frame white to match our other white pieces of furniture. We already had a tin of paint, so we didn’t have to pay out for any more paint. We did, however, have to sand it first. We use Rust-Oleum furniture paint, and you don’t have to sand or prime before using this paint, but the state of the wood meant we did have to smooth it out.

I want to be transparent in these posts, and even if I have something to hand/ at home (such as the paint), I want to give a cost as if I had to buy all the materials from scratch. The total for this upcycle for paint and sandpaper would have been approximately: £16.00

Rust-Oleum AMZ0012 A Classic, Smooth Touch Flat matt Paint Finish, Antique White, 750ml

Amtech S3850 30pc Assorted Sandpaper Set

I think £16.00 to upcycle a free piece of furniture is a great price. These wicker drawer sets tend to sell for around £30 -£70 online, so I am happy with my savings.

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*Disclaimer: I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. This post contains affiliate links to products. At no extra cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links

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Simple Rhubarb Sauce (Perfect for Ice Cream)

Tis the season for plentiful rhubarb plants! If you are like me, you may have a huge supply of rhubarb. One way we like to eat ours is as a sauce over some ice cream.

I find many children are put off by rhubarb’s stringy texture and sharp taste, but when blended into a sauce and eaten over a sweet ice cream, kids tend to eat it more willingly. I am a huge rhubarb fan, and this is my favourite way to eat it.

Ingredients

  • 500g Rhubarb sliced
  • 30g butter
  • 100g Demerara sugar (any sugar will work)
  • 200g water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Method

  • Melt the butter in your saucepan and add in the rhubarb, sugar, and water.
  • Stir it continuously until the rhubarb starts to break down.
  • Then, pop a lid on it and leave it on high for 5 minutes, then turn it down and simmer on a low heat for another 5 minutes.
  • Put your rhubarb mix through the food processor for a smoother sauce.
  • Allow it to cool and refrigerate it if you want to use it on ice cream.

Storing Your Sauce

You can keep your sauce in the fridge for up to 7 days. I like to half mine and place half in the freezer for a later date. You can keep it in your freezer for up to a year.

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Harvesting & Storing Rhubarb

It is rhubarb season, and that means we want to make the most of our crop. I receive a lot of questions around this time of year on how to harvest and store rhubarb. Quite a lot of people are daunted by the idea, but it really is simple.

Harvesting Rhubarb

  • If your rhubarb is newly planted, I advise not to pick anything from the first harvest to allow the plant to fully establish itself.
  • You should harvest rhubarb when the stalks are about 10 inches. I try to pick the ones nearest the ground first rather than let the slugs have them.
  • Always leave 1/3 of the stalks on each root ball to keep the plant healthy.
  • To pull a stalk, place your hand near the bottom of the stalk, and with a gentle tug, pull the stalk out of the root ball. It should just pop right out.
  • Cut off the leaves and compost them. DO NOT eat them, they are poisonous.

Storing Rhubarb

  • First thing you want to do with your freshly picked rhubarb is to slice off the ends and clean the stalks in some water and white vinegar.
  • You can keep the stalks in the fridge for up to a week, but I like to prep mine and freeze them.
  • I slice mine into about 1cm pieces and freeze them in air tight containers. It really is that simple to freeze rhubarb. When you want to make your crumble or compote etc, just use it from frozen.
  • If you make something like a sauce or compote from fresh rhubarb, you can store it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a year.

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Cereal Box DIY Notebooks

My daughter loves to make these little DIY notebooks for herself and her friends. They are fab for role playing, or to encourage story writing and spelling revision etc.

What you will need:

  • Cereal box
  • Paper (about 5 sheets)
  • Staper
  • Decorative supplies- we uses washi tapes.
  • Scissors

Method:

  • Cut the front panel off of your cereal box and fold in half (inside facing out).
  • Fold your 5 pieces of A4 paper in half to form a booklet. Slip it inside the folded cardboard, and if necessary, trim to fit.
  • Staple the whole thing together. Don’t worry about the staples showing on the outside as you can cover them when you decorate the outside.

I hope you enjoy the simplicity of this craft and your children can benefit from them. I even have a couple for myself to keep my lists in one place.

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5 Uses for Toilet Roll Tubes

We all use toilet paper, right? … Right? Thankfully, the inner, cardboard tubes can be recycled, but there are some other ways for you to repurpose them first!

First things first, if you are worried about hygiene, I want to tell you a quick way to sterilise your toilet roll tubes before use. Pop your toilet roll tubes in the microwave for ten seconds. Do not leave the microwave unattended if you choose to do this.

Mini Gift Boxes

It is so easy to make little gift boxes out of toilet roll tubes. Simply fold the ends in on themselves and tape shut. Add ribbon or bows to decorate. These are great for party favours and small gifts such as jewellery.

Wire Tidy

Say no to tangled wires with toilet roll tubes. Use one tube to keep each set of wires separate and tangle free. Label the tube, so you know what each wire is for.

Desk Tidy

Toilet roll tubes make a great desk tidy. You can find my tutorial here: Recycled Desk Tidy

Marble Run

Making a marble run is a great activity for kids, and they can play for hours with the finished result. Cut the toilet rolls in half and stick them to a solid surface such as a door or wall to create a run for a marble or small ball.

We used balled up paper to make our ball as we have an under 3 year old.

Gift Wrap Tidy

If you have open rolls of gift wrap, then pay attention to this simple hack. To stop the roll from unravelling or getting damaged, slice the toilet roll tube open length ways, then slip it over the roll.

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Repurposing Plastic Milk Bottles

With two children, we go through a lot of milk in our house. Thankfully, milk bottles can be recycled, but why not get a little more use out of them first? Here are my top repurposing ideas for milk bottles:

Watering Can

Simply pierce some holes in the lid and you have a simple watering can. This is also great as a toy for kids in the paddling pool over the summer.

Plant Pots

Cut the bottom off of your milk bottle to make a plant pot. Pierce some holes for drainage. These are great to use if you gift or sell seedlings etc. You will save money on the pots.

Shed Storage

Cut the bottom off the milk bottle, much like making a plant pot, but don’t pierce the bottom with drainage holes. You can store anything you like in these little holders. This is perfect for shed storage as it’s free, and unlike metal containers, it won’t rust in the damp.

Bird Feeder

Cut a rectangular shape out of the milk bottle just under the handle. (See the picture for the design). This creates a small well for the seed. This is a great craft idea for children. I like to put a skewer through the top of mine to attach string to hang it.

Garden Trowel

Yes, a milk bottle really can make a handy, little trowel. I use mine for scooping compost. You leave the handle in place, but cut away the rest of the plastic to form a trowel shape. (See the picture for the design)

Feed Scoop

When making a plant pot or shed storage, you will be left with the top part of the milk bottle. This part is perfect as a pet food scoop. Just make sure you have the lid screwed on tightly.

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500g Minced Beef into 3 Meals for a Family of 4!

You may not believe me when I say I can turn 500g of minced beef into 3 meals for my family of 4, but I am hear to show you some tips and tricks for making meat stretch, and how you can still feed your family a tasty, filling meal.

For perspective, this is what 500g of minced beef looks like. I know it looks like a measly amount, but I can make savoury mince, spaghetti bolognese, and mini meatballs out of this amount. It is all about how you bulk out your meat, and what you serve it with. Meat is expensive compared to vegetables and this is just one thing I use this to my advantage.

Here is the total for the ingredients I bought, and an approximate total of what I actually used in these 3 meals. Please note that the grocery list is based on how the ingredients come (large packs etc), and I am assuming you don’t have any of the ingredients in the pantry when doing these lists to be 100% transparent in costing them up::

*Prices accurate from Tesco.com at the time of this post

  • Bag of frozen diced mixed veg 1kg £0.79p (Used 26p worth)
  • Potatoes 1kg £1.49p (Used 37p worth)
  • Spaghetti £0.20p (Used 10p worth)
  • Tinned chopped toms x4 £1.30p (Used all)
  • Frozen broccoli & cauli 900g £1.04p (Used 34p worth)
  • Minced beef 500g £2.79p (Used all)
  • Bread £0.59p (Slices x2 – 10p?)
  • Oats 1kg £0.75p (Used 15p worth)
  • Onion x2 £0.20p (Used all)
  • Oil 1ltr £1.10p (Used 10p worth)
  • Eggs 6 pack £0.70p (Used 1 = 11p)
  • Gravy 500g £0.70p (Used 14p worth)
  • Beef stock cubes 10 pack £0.50p (Used 3 = 16p)
  • Mixed herbs 18g £0.85p (Used 5p worth)

Total: £13.00p (£6.17p)

That total used works out at approximately £2.05 per meal, and £0.51p a head. Plus, there are many leftovers such as frozen vegetables, and long life items such as oil, stock cubes, and herbs.

Slow Cooked Savoury Mince

Place 1/3 of the minced beef in the slow cooker with a diced onion, and 300g of frozen mixed veg. Add 1 x beef stock cube, and pour on enough water to cover the ingredients. The more water you use, the more gravy granules you will need to add just before serving. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes. I like to add another side of vegetables as well.

Slow Cooked Spaghetti Bolognese

Place 1/3 of the minced beef in the slow cooker with 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, 1 diced onion, 1 stock cube, and about 300g of frozen mixed vegetables. Now, the secret ingredient to bulk out the mince a little more is oats. Add in 50g of oats, 1 tbsp of mixed herbs, and top with enough water to cover the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

You can add extra vegetables such as broccoli and peas etc if you want to bulk it out some more, or even some mushrooms.

Serve with a generous portion of spaghetti. Topping with cheese is optional.

Slow Cooked Meatballs in Sauce

My slow cooked meatballs are simple to make and cook. All you need is the remaining 1/3 of the mince, 1 egg, and 2 slices of bread blitzed into crumbs in a bowl. Combine really well with your hands. It’s the breadcrumbs that makes the mince stretch further. Then, form the mince into 1.5 cm – 2 cm balls ( I get about 20 balls out of my mixture). Brown the meatballs all over in some oil, so they don’t fall apart in the slow cooker. Add the browned meatballs to your slow cooker and cover with your tomato sauce. You can use 500ml of passata, or 2x cans of chopped tomatoes, or even a 500ml jar of ready made meatball sauce. Herbs are optional, but I like to add in 1 tbsp of mixed herbs. (Check that the sauce you use doesn’t already have herb flavouring before adding more). For the purpose of this post, I used 2 tins of chopped tomatoes for my sauce. Pop in 1 beef stock cube, an extra 200ml of water, and then cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Serve the meatballs and sauce over spaghetti.

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I hope my recipes show how you can make meat stretch and still provide a hearty meal for your family. Of course, you can adapt these recipes to use what you already have, or your family’s tastes.

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1 Week of Cleaning with Just Washing Up Liquid

I have been asked more than once if you can clean a whole house with just washing up liquid. Cleaning soap is cleaning soap, right? I have always said ‘why not?’ Washing up liquid is great on grease and grime, and anything is better than nothing for cleaning your house. However, I hadn’t tried cleaning my whole house with just washing up liquid, so I couldn’t give an honest answer in regards to how well, and more importantly, how easy it is to clean areas such as floors etc.

I set myself the challenge to just clean with washing up liquid for a whole week and to report how it went.

I used Tesco Anti-Bac washing Up Liquid that cost just 0.41p at the time of this post. I thought that if I could get my whole house clean on a product that cheap, it would be a worthwhile challenge. I bought the antibacterial one purposely as I shall be using it on areas such as the toilet.

I do make some of my own cleaners as I have posted previously, but I wanted to see if washing up liquid would be enough for every surface I have to clean within the week. You can find the links to all my DIY cleaners in this post: Frugal Cleaning Hacks

How did I get on?

*The instructions say that for general cleaning, dilute in water, and for effective antibacterial use, use neat on a dishcloth. I’m glad I read this as I would have assumed that diluted detergent would have had the same antibacterial effect as you generally dilute it to use on dishes which is the main purpose.

Toilet, bath, and sink: I found it incredibly easy to wash the bath and sink with the washing up liquid as it foamed nicely and washed away easily without leaving a residue.

In the toilet, I squirted a small amount directly into the bowl and used a toilet brush to scrub inside the bowl. I used it undiluted on an old rag to clean the rest of the toilet. When I flushed the toilet, we had a lot of bubbles for a while. I advise using it diluted in the toilet, or a very very small amount undiluted.

Kitchen: I was very happy with using it in the kitchen, and I do tend to clean cupboard doors etc with washing up liquid anyway. I used it diluted to give the counters and chopping boards a good clean.

Floors: This is where it got a little tricky for me. Even a small amount of liquid in my bucket made the floor really soapy when mopped. I had to rinse it well, and found it easier to get on my hands and knees and clean the floor with one soapy rag to wash, and a damp rag to rinse. This was the only time consuming, problematic area for me. It is definitely doable, but I prefer a floor cleaner with less residue.

Also, as I was using it diluted for the floors, I wanted to ensure my floors got disinfected well, so I added vinegar to the water as well.

Fridge: I used the liquid diluted to clean inside my fridge with no issues. Once rinsed, I was happy that my fridge was thoroughly clean.

Microwave: I filled a small bowl with some water and a squirt of washing up liquid and put it in the microwave for five minutes to loosen the tougher areas. I then used the soapy water to give the microwave a good wipe out. If your microwave just needs a wipe over, I would recommend doing so when you are doing the dishes to save on the detergent.

General cleaning: As this challenge was to use just washing up liquid to clean my whole house, I even used some soapy water and well rung out rag to damp dust throughout. It worked, but I had to buff the surfaces a after with a dry cloth to get the shine I like.

Windows: This was an area that I knew would be fine as I wash my windows inside and outside with washing up liquid anyway, and then I buff them with newspaper and vinegar to get that streak free finish.

*I do not have a dishwasher, so I couldn’t test how easy it is to clean one with washing up liquid. I spoke to a friend who advised against using it undiluted as it would cause no end of problems with bubbles. She suggested using it diluted on a well rung out cloth to give it a wipe over inside and out.

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I hope my little challenge has shown you that you can clean all areas of your house with washing up detergent, but some areas may require a little elbow grease than other such as rinsing the floors. If nothing else, i can hand on heart give my honest opinion on areas I would happily use dish soap to clean, and that if I was in a pinch, I know i can clean my house well with just a 0.42p dish soap.

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5 Uses for Used Teabags

If you’re like me, you enjoy a cup of tea or one hundred during the day. You may think that used teabags are only good for the bin, but think again. I have 5 uses for used teabags that really make those teabags work for the money.

Bath Soak

Drop a handful of tea bags in the bath as it is running for a simple bath soak. Black tea is said to reduce inflammation. It is also said to help with sunburn.

Starting Off Seedlings

To use used teabags as compost for seeds you need to soak the used teabags in cold water, then place them on a tray. Cut a slit into the top and pop your seed in. Place in a sunny, warm spot and mist with water when necessary.

Fridge Deodoriser

Tea leaves will absorb the odours in your fridge. Just pop a few used tea bags in a bowl and place it in your fridge. Change them out with fresh ones every three days or so.

Facial wash

Black tea is said to help with dry skin and puffy eyes. Place your used tea bags in some warm water and allow to steep for a few minutes. Wash your face in the wash and pat dry.

Glass Cleaner

Put your used tea bags to steep in warm water, then allow to cool. Decanter it into a spray bottle and spray the glass all over. Use one cloth to wipe the tea over the glass and another, dry cloth to buff.

Note: You know, you can also reuse a tea bag to make another cup of tea? The tea will be weaker second time around, but it does work.

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Lemon Balm Hair Rinse

I am still on my mission to discover many different uses for the lemon balm plant that is growing like mad in my garden. Did you know that lemon balm is great for oily hair or scalp build up. It is incredibly simple to make a DIY hair rinse using lemon balm.

Why Lemon Balm?

As I mentioned, lemon balm is good for oily hair and scalp build up. Why? It is a mild astringent and is believed to balance out natural oils.

A lot of people who grow lemon balm prefer the taste before it flowers, so this is a great way to use up lemon balm after it flowers in another way to make the most out of your crop.

DIY Hair Rinse:

  • Put 3 large handfuls of lemon balm leaves into a jug or bowl and fill the jug with boiling water.
  • Allow to steep overnight.
  • Strain out the lemon balm leaves.

This also works with dried lemon balm, so be sure to harvest and dry your lemon balm before the end of the season to last you through the winter. You can also freeze lemon balm leaves for this purpose.

How to Use:

  • Wash your hair with your normal shampoo and conditioner, making sure you rinse thoroughly.
  • Pour the rinse over your hair. (I like to do this rinse by hanging my head over the bath as the rinse water is cold.) You can heat up the rinse if you prefer, but I leave it cool.
  • Massage all over your scalp for a few minutes.
  • For best results, do not rinse out.
  • Do this once a week.

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