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November 2016

DIY paint tester pot doormat

DIY paint tester pot doormat

by Clare Mansell

Those of you who follow me on Facebook might remember that I shared a photo of a multi-coloured duckboard door mat a few weeks ago and said what a great use of our left over tester pots it would be. Well in the end I decided the duckboard probably wouldn’t stand up to all the toing and froing in our house and so instead decided to try the same treatment on a £6 coir mat

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The annual beach photo 2016

The annual beach photo 2016

by Clare Mansell

November is the time of year when we head to West Wittering beach for a winter dog walk and an annual beach photo. After many years of moving round postings and rarely staying in the same place for longer than 18 months we started this tradition as a way of capturing change in Theo, but also consistency in our lives.

I can’t quite comprehend that in January we will have been in our home for 4 years. Time has flown by and it is so lovely to see Theo so settled here, greeting our neighbours by name and feeling confident in the familarity of his environment.

Here are the first two photos that started our tradition, Theo at the age of 2 and 3…

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And here he is last year and this weekend. He’s definitely started to shoot up and is looking noticeably long and lean. I love his casual confident pose!

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When we took the photo last year I had expected (or hoped!) that Alice might be able to stand beside him for the photo this year, but although she’s taking a few steps we had to settle for her staying in the back pack. If this photo is anything to go by getting both of them to look at the camera for the next few years could be tricky!

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So just like Theo she’ll have to wait till the age of two before she can start her own annual photo tradition! Of course the beach is always a great spot for some photos, so I couldn’t resist taking a few more…

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And a rather rare family selfie. It may not be the best of shots, but I fear that without iPhones wed have about one photo a year of all of us!

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Transforming a £6 charity shop bedside table

Transforming a £6 charity shop bedside table

by Clare Mansell

A few weeks ago a charity shop opened around the corner from my house in a newly built unit. There was a bit of uproar in the village as the developers had promised local people a convenience store and instead signed the shop lease over to a local hospice, but quietly I was a little excited by the news and when it opened I was not disappointed.

It’s proved to be a treasure trove of bargain finds from designer wellies to vintage jewellery, children’s clothes and furniture and I’ve somewhere local to donate my own stuff to a charity who need to raise £20,000 a day to keep going.

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Our new DIY veranda

by Clare Mansell

Last month I shared some photos of our front door makeover, which was part one of a three step project to finish the front of our house properly. Part two involved building a small decking area under our veranda and for part three we will be building a new path to the front door.

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The veranda was added two years ago as part of the makeover/renovation of our house and until now we’ve just had the ground underneath covered with gravel. It was a cheap and quick temporary solution, but both children liked digging around in it and the gravel got everywhere, so it wasn’t great. The newly painted door looked so good that it inspired us to bump the veranda up the list of DIY jobs and get it sorted over half-term while Jim was off work.

In an ideal world we would have chosen to build out of composite decking which has a 25 year guarantee, but wood was so much cheaper we decided to use that. This area is protected from the worst of the weather by being under cover, so we hope it should last a decent length of time.

Here’s what the area looked like before…

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Our wood for the project came on the back of a lorry from our local timber merchants. They also supplied a lot of the materials for the house renovation and all the turf when we did our garden, so we seem to spend a lot of time with one of their lorries outside our house!

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The first part of building the deck involved laying out a timber grid to lay the deck on.

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When it was all built we stained it. We chose black because we are hoping to build a much larger deck round the corner from this which we will build from composite. We’d like the two to match and black (rather than a shade of brown) is therefore our best bet for a close colour match. The staining required three coats with 24 hours between each. Jim did the first and I did the last two. When I did the final coat I heaped on everything I had left in the tin and it took about a week to dry, during which time Jim sat on it (ahhh!) and the children walked across it!

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As part of the project we also bought a wood store, which we had initially planned to put on the deck, but it took up way too much room, so we moved the bulk of the logs with the store round to the side of our house. We kept a few as a token display at the front and added some of our garden furniture.

And here’s the finished result. I’d been hoping for some nice weather to take some slightly more “styled” photos, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this week!

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The wall mounted stag head was part of my Christmas haul from HomeSense, but I think it’ll be a permanent feature.

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In the spring I plan to plant out the area directly in front of the deck and find a more attractive dog bed for our Canadian pooch to sit in!

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HomeSense Christmas homeware finds (with haul video)

Last year I blogged about my very belated discovery of HomeSense, an eclectic homeware store which unbeknown to me was the sister company of my favourite homeware store in Canada. Since then I’ve been back several times and bought various things including a lovely glass unit for our kitchen which is made out of recycled wood.

Rather cleverly HomeSense change their stock quite frequently and often only have one of their larger furniture pieces in store at any particular time. They also sell a lot of stuff which us crafty folks love, from DIY kits to things like block letters which are great to use in a creative project and they have bold colourful things that I haven’t seen in any other shop.

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Luckily for me, HomeSense asked me to work with them again this Christmas, promoting their decorations and festive accessories. I needn’t tell you this is pretty much a dream gig, not least of all because I can legitimately take myself off to the store on a Saturday morning for a whole hour of peaceful browsing without the children.

This year rather than photographing and writing about everything I bought, I decided to film it, so you can get to have a peek inside the store at their Christmas stock (they don’t sell online because the stock is always changing) and I can explain what I bought and where it’s going in our house and tell you about what the lovely lady at the checkout said about one of my purchases.

So without further ado here’s the video of my HomeSense Christmas haul…

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