Thursday, December 29, 2011

Handmade Soaps

Here's some more Christmas presents I made this year.
I bought clear and white glycerin and decided on my different types of soap I was going to make:

Oatmeal & honey
Honey & ginger

I used a heart-shaped silicon icecube tray and a silicon muffin tray.
I lightly greased the trays with sunflower oil so the soap wouldn't stick.
I then cut a chunk of the glycerin and melted it in the microwave.
I added my ingredients:
200g clear glycerin + 1 tbsp honey + 1 tbsp porridge oats blitzed down (aka oatmeal!)
200g clear glycerin + 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
200g white glycerin + 1 tbsp honey + 1 tsp ground ginger
I poured the liquid soap into the moulds and then sprinkled vodka on top to stop bubbles forming.

After an hour they were hardened and I put them in the fridge to firm them up a bit.

I then wrapped them all up ready for Christmas!

Wooden Spoon Rest

I used bits of leftover wood, cut them to a good size that would fit a spoon to rest on. I then sanded all sides smooth and then sanded the top surface at a funny angle and tried to make a little dip in the wood.
I kept going until I was happy with the result and then rubbed sunflower oil into it to protect it.
There you have it - a little rest to put wooden spoons and the like when cooking!

Chopping Boards

I had some lovely thick pieces of beech wood left over from the single beds I'm in the middle of making so decided to make them into chopping boards.
I did these down at the woodworking shop as I didn't have the tools at home and I didn't want any prying eyes peeking at them before Christmas!
I cut them to size on the table saw (well, actually Thomas the carpenter who is in charge did as "normal" people aren't allowed to use the scary open table saw!).
I then used a router for the first time and actually had to look up the English translation for the word Oberfräse! I never did any carpentry or anything in England so never really needed the vocab for words like that!
I rounded off all the sides on the boards and then carved out a little drip catching grave all the way round the big board to catch all the juices when cutting duck etc.!
I then sanded them nice and smooth and rubbed normal sunflower oil into them to protect them.


Now that the presents have been handed out, I can blog about how I made them!!
I sellotaped tissue paper onto normal A4 paper and printed out sheet music onto it.
I then cut the tissue paper to the right size to fit round the candle.

I wrapped the tissue paper round the candle, being sure to put it the right way .... well, OK, I didn't and G had to point out that one of them was upside down! Not bad going for someone who wasn't paying attention though!
I then kept the tissue paper in place with a line of glue down the ends and a couple of drawing pins stuck in the wax.

I got my trusty hairdryer and gave my candles a blow dry until the wax melted slightly and caught the tissue paper.
Obviously had to make myself one too!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Tree

We're off to England for Christmas to see all my family so didn't think it would be worth getting a tree this year. We seem to have quite a few disasters when it comes to buying Christmas trees, so maybe this is the way forward?!
Here's an amusing story for you...

Our first year in our own flat in Nuremberg:
I absolutely had to have a tree so G kindly decided to go and get one. This was before the days when we had a car, so he just went on the tube. The only trees they had were ones in pots with earth. He bought one and almost broke his hands carrying it back on his own getting some very funny looks on the tube!
We decorated it and then flew to England for Christmas. On our return I started to notice quite a lot of ants in the flat and realised that there was a reason most people buy Christmas trees without roots attached! The soil had been full of ants! To top the story off, when we came to dispose of the tree we were unsure as to where you could throw them away and didn't want to drag it through the whole flat to get it outside so decided just to chop it up and put it in the normal rubbish. A word of advice to anyone planning on doing this ... do not just have a blunt pair of scissors to hand - it really doesn't make for enjoyable work!

Anyway, you can see why I might be told in no uncertain terms that we are not bothering with a Christmas tree this year! I still wanted somewhere to put the presents, so took it upon myself to build a Christmas tree!
I looked in my collection of scrap wood and had all different sized pieces that didn't even require cutting - perfect! I also had a small branch left over as a possible 3rd branch towel rail but decided it was too wonky in the end but perfect as a Christmas tree trunk!

I glued all the pieces together and clamped them until they were dry. I didn't bother getting them perfectly straight as I wanted a quirky tree.

I had some green paint on hand and painted the planks.
I then pre-drilled screw holes into the "trunk", glued it to the planks of wood and then screwed it in place.
I then hammered little nails in the tree so I could decorate it properly!!

I used a spare vase and filled it with Christmas decorations to hold the tree in place.
Not bad, 'eh?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wood Veneer Lampshade

I bought this white veneer stuff from the hardware shop. It's normally used for sticking onto wood, I think! Anyway, I bought a cheap lamp kit and then made loads of loops out of the veneer by cutting strips and gluing them together. I then glued the loops together round the lamp so that they made a pretty pattern! I made a couple of these and they are hanging in the hallway as you come in the door and in the landing upstairs.

Photos Wall

Well, it's over a year down the line but we have finally got frames for most of our wedding photos!
My brilliant and talented friend Oliver took all the photos and then developed them himself ... thanks Olli!
Am not very good at those gallery style walls as they always end up looking too try hard, so went for more of a symmetrical feel.
This is what the wall in the living room ended up like:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Branch Towel Rail

I collected some good sized branches from the forest next to our house, stripped the bark from them, cut them to size and chopped off all the sticky-outy bits with my circular saw. I then sanded, sanded, sanded and sanded some more until I had some super smooth branches!

Apparently Germans aren't so keen on DIY as I went to a couple of hardware shops and explained what a towel rail bracket was and even drew a picture but to no avail! So, when we were in England last week, I made a quick fly-by to B&Q and picked some up. Thank goodness for Blighty!
Anyway, I digress!
I then chose a chestnut brown wood stain and applied it using kitchen towel. I did 4 coats, letting it dry inbetween each coat. I then sealed it with a few coats of varnish so that no moisture can get it.
These little gems are now in the top bathroom!

I saw this idea on Pretty Handy Girl's blog - have a look and see what you think!

Storage Step

We have finally moved upstairs to our brilliant new bedroom! Every time I walk upstairs I smile. I love it so much!
Anyway, we have a section of the room that is a walk-in wardrobe and have got shelves that go right up to the ceiling. We wanted a sort of mini ladder to be able to reach up there ... et vòila ... the storage step was born!

I measured the height of a chair and built it according to those measurements. I designed the step using SketchUp and built it with spruce wood bought with a handy 19% VAT discount and then put it all together with pockethole screws.
I primed it, painted it white and turquoise and then sealed it with a varnish. I also added some rubber step covers so we don't slip!

Not sure what to put in the storage bit yet ... will have to get my thinking cap on!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


My next big project is to build 2 single beds. They are going to be guest beds that are multi-purpose:
  • Twin beds for 2 friends visiting
  • Pushed together for a couple visiting
  • Can be built into bunkbeds
I got the wood from a wholesale timber merchant place down by the harbour. You can only order massive slabs of wood, so I measured the size of our little VW Golf to see the maximum length of wood that would fit in it without any wood sticking out the boot. I needed to have planks that were 2m long as that's the length of the beds and the Golf can fit 214cm! I placed my order and drove down. They practically laughed me out of there saying along the lines of "oh little girl, you do realise what size wood you've ordered? "This" is the car you've come to pick it up in?! No way will that wood fit in there!". I told them to hang on and that it just needed a bit of rearranging - by putting the back seats down and the front passenger seat pushed forward, they fitted in like a jigsaw! What do you think?!

I designed the beds using SketchUp and also used it to find the best way of cutting the wood with the least bits of wood wasted.

I am making the beds at the wood workshop as I didn't feel confident doing them all on my own. I gave my measurements to the carpenter who helps out there and he cut all the wood to size on the big scary open table saw.

So far all I have done is glued the leg pieces together so they will be sturdy like posts.

The wood workshop is closed for the summer holidays until next week anyway so I won't get going again until then.

Shoe Rack

Here's the shoe rack I built as my first wood project! I designed it to fit exactly into the little niche in our hallway using a free designing tool SketchUp.
It's really easy to use and gives you a great idea of whether something will work or not.

I built the shoe rack at a woodwork shop in town. It's a great idea - it's basically a centre which offers loads of activities you can do where there is someone on hand to show you what to do and then you get on with your project. You pay a couple of Euros for the evening and can then use all the tools etc.
Here it is drying clamped together in the woodshop!

I made this project with cheapo spruce wood and a biscuit joining method. It's so sturdy! We sit on it all the time to put our shoes on.
I painted it white with the shelf bottoms in the same blue as the dandelions on the wall so that a) you can't see grubby shoe marks and b) it fits in with the blue and white hallway theme. I'm sure it would cost loads to have a carpenter make a custom rack!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Bedside Tables

Here they are ... my little gems are finished!
Am really happy with how they turned out.

I used SketchUp to design them.

I used pocket hole screws and just the cheapest spruce wood as I knew I was going to paint the bedside tables when they were finished.

Hopefully I didn't annoy the neighbours sawing with my brand new circular saw! I shut myself in the cellar and G got to play a bit more Fifa on the Playstation than normal! I love having a house! Could never have got to have a hobby like this in the flat where we used to live with Pat Butcher in the flat below!

I painted them white and then used a chestnut brown woodstain for the knob and surfaces. I then varnished the whole thing to give it a protective coating.

Look - drawers that open and close and everything!


I ordered some clock hands off Amazon and printed out a sample of fonts for G to choose...
what do you think? Good choice?

I am definitely the creative one out of us and he has the mathematician's brain, so worked out where the numbers should go on the wall and I painted them on - what a team!
It's just behind the sofa in the living room and grabs your attention as soon as you walk in the room - I love it!

Dandelions Key Hooks

I drew a sketch of what I wanted and then free-handed it onto the wall in pencil.

I then painted over the pencil marks in a blue paint with a thin paintbrush.

I drilled into the wall, put in rawlplugs and screwed hooks into the wall.

Our house keys, shed keys etc. hang here and I love that you can always tell whether the other person is home as soon as you're in the door!

They're just next to the door and are supposed to look like a gust of wind from opening the door has made the dandelion clocks (or what are the individual bits of the clocks called - hands?!) blow up the stairs.

I got the inspiration from a great website with loads of brilliant ideas - have a look here!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Then and Now!

So, here’s a little preview of how things looked before we moved in and what the house looks like now
(Click on the photos to enlarge them):

Top Floor

This is the top floor which will be our main bedroom. It’s got a balcony and an ensuite. At the moment we're in the middle of the moving process. We’re having a walk-in wardrobe type thing and, once the blinds are up, we’ll move up here!


This is where we’re sleeping at the moment. When we move upstairs, this will become the guest room.

That’s my attempt at a scrabble piece cushion, in case you’re wondering what on earth G2 means!

The bathroom is finished. It needs towel rails and then it’s done.

Living Room

Some silly shots of me. I think this was when I was worried that the living room might be too small! It’s so hard to picture something when it’s all just concrete!
We basically recreated how things were in the old flat.
Do you like the flowers on the table trying to make it look like a magazine shot?!


Our kitchen when the builders were using it as their smoking den!
We’re finished with the kitchen. Just need splashbacks and some sort of tea towel hooks or something.

Our little patch of grass! It was full of weeds and cat poo when we moved in! We’re slowly putting down new grass seed and have a little bed of herbs but haven’t really done much to it yet.