Homemade by Hail title pic

Homemade by Hail title pic

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Fireplace Renovation

We have had to adapt and change so many aspects of the house since having a baby, and the latest is the fireplace. We used to have a large mantelpiece with a gas fire placed in front of it:

The tiles on the floor were so dangerous for Miri, and she kept grabbing the grill of the gas fire and pulling herself up to standing. I spent all day pulling her away or placing cushions and pillows over the fireplace to cover it. It had to go!

Here are a few pics of the work in progress:




The floor piece is padded and covered in oilcloth, much safer for Miri and can be wiped clean! The fireplace is painted with magnetic chalk board paint so when Miri is old enough she can draw and write on it. So much more child friendly, and pretty!

I had already up-cycled the fireplace sometime last year, so there are actually three before and after pics:

What do you think?

Monday, 5 September 2016

Aromatherapy Heat Pack

Whilst on holiday in Cornwall this year my mum suffered from a stiff neck and severe headache, which she often gets. At the time I said to her "you need a heat pack!" Which reminded me that during my pregnancy I had planned to make my own aromatherapy heat pack to use on my lower back and I've finally got round to it today! I don't need it anymore, so it's a lil' gift for my mummy.

I used my sewing machine to create a simple long rectangle bag. I filled the bag with rice that had been soaked in lavender. Everyone knows the relaxing benefits of lavender so I won't go into that now! I also added freshly dried lavender from my garden. So not only is the heat pack a chemical free pain relief and muscle relaxant, it also has aromatherapy benefits. 

Here's Hubby testing it out, he said that the lavender kept his calm whilst working from home this afternoon. ;-)

If you or anyone you know is suffering with stress, pain in the body or is pregnant, I can highly recommend an aromatherapy heat pack. I would be happy to make more - xmas is coming up! 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

DIY Chemical Free Natural Scented Candles

There’s nothing better than lighting a scented candle in your freshly cleaned home, next to your bubble bath or to pop in the middle of the table on date night! But a couple of months ago the vet warned my sister that her scented candles were having a detrimental effect on her cat’s lung health. Being pregnant at the time, I wondered if they could also cause harm to a baby’s lungs.

The short answer is yes, in fact they can cause harm to adult’s lungs as well!

Here’s the long answer: Scented candles give off VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds. If you’ve ever researched into and bought ‘baby/child-friendly’ paint, you would have looked for paint which is VOC free. That’s because breathing in VOC’s can cause a number of health problems, such as headaches and dizziness (short exposure) or cancer and kidney damage (long exposure). For more info on VOC’s click here.

Most scented candles are made with paraffin wax, including the very popular Yankee Candle (although they do state that they use refined paraffin). Paraffin is an oil by-product and can give off the same types of emissions found in diesel fuel fumes! Diesel – something I never would have related to my lovely smelling candle!

Candle wicks may also cause harmful air pollution in your home. Some candle wicks contain lead. “A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC, which is why they banned lead wicks in 2003. Exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and numerous health problems.” Quote source.

I could go on and on with all the research I found surrounding the safety of scented candles, but this was enough to persuade me not to use them anymore. If you do want to read more, look here

You may have seen on my Instagram that I have been experimenting with making my own chemical free scented candles. I decided to use soy wax in my candles. Soy Wax is non-toxic, releasing no known carcinogens (substances capable of causing cancer) into the air.  I also chose a wick made of cotton, ensuring that it didn’t contain any lead. To scent my candle I used a lavender essential oil.

To try and give you a full and honest picture, I did find one piece of research that found small amounts of VOC’s are released when essential oils are burned, but certainly not the same amount as paraffin candles. See more about this here

I have found that the only completely toxic free candle is a bee's wax candle. However, I think essential oil soy candles are a safer scented candle than shop bought paraffin candles. 

DIY scented candles:

1.Super glue your votive wick to your candle container. Depending on the circumference/width of your container, you may need to use more than one wick, evenly spreading them. If not, the wick will not melt all of the wax. See pics below:

2. Melt your wax flakes in a glass container over boiling water. I used double the amount of wax flakes that the container holds was enough. 

3. Add essential oils to the melted wax and stir well. 

4.Pour the wax into your candle container and leave to set over night. I used lolly pop sticks to hold my candle wicks in place.

5. Light your candles!

Using three wicks instead on one worked much better with my glass container. I will judge the amount of wicks I use each time, and I will also give bee's wax a go in the future.

I will be handing my natural scented candles out to friends and family over the coming week and will ask them to write reviews, which I will collate in a blog next week. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Homemade multi-purpose chemical free household cleaner

Having a baby completely changes your view of the world. Keeping your baby safe, healthy and happy becomes the most important thing. In light of this, since having my baby I have endeavoured to keep my house tidy and clean at all times, using polish, surface sprays, anti-bac wipes, bleach, etc. My step-daughter was sick a couple of weeks ago and I went mad ‘anti-bacing’ every surface and door handle in the house! When I clean the house, I take the baby out of the room I’m cleaning, or if Hubby’s about, I get him to take the baby out. I can’t bear the thought of her breathing in the polish spray or the toilet gel. After a while I began to wonder why I was happy to spray these chemicals all over my house if I wasn’t happy to use them in front of the baby. Also, even after washing my hands with soap they would still smell of the cleaning products. Obviously I am then touching baby.

Because of this I began to research ‘baby-friendly’ cleaning products. The products I found were produced by reputable baby brands, such as Milton and Ecover, however a quick scan of the ingredient list shows a whole host of chemicals.

Many household cleaners, such as toilet gel and oven cleaner, contain corrosive chemicals: Chlorine bleach and Ammonia, which have high acute toxicity, produce fumes which are extremely irritating to our throats and lungs and advice suggests these should not be used around people with asthma or lung problems. Personally I would take this a step further and question why we use them around anybody! To make matters worse, when Chlorine bleach and Ammonia are mixed together they produce a highly toxic gas called Chloramine Gas. Chloramine Gas exposure can lead to pulmonary irritation and pneumonitis. You can see why I don’t want to use these products around my precious new born, or around the rest of my family!

So began my research into natural homemade cleaners. Although many of the recipes varied, they all use the same basic ingredients: White Vinegar, Water, Bicarbonate of Soda and Lemon or other essential oils. 

I decided to make my household cleaner using white vinegar, water and the juice of half a lemon. Here’s why:

  • ·         White Vinegar contains acetic acid. Acetic acid is an organic compound produced through the fermentations of sugars and is the reason vinegar cleans so well. White Vinegar prevents mould, mildew, and some bacteria’s (for example, salmonella) from growing.
  • ·         Lemon juice has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. As they are highly acidic, the juice cuts through grease and neutralises odours.

I bought the bottles from the pound shop, although washed up empty bottles would be fine as well. I filled the bottle with water and then poured it into a measuring jug. It showed that the bottle would hold a pint of liquid. I used the same amount of water and white vinegar – just under half a pint. This left enough room to squeeze half a lemon’s juice into the bottle. Give the bottle a good shake and your good to go!

I have used my spray in the kitchen as a surface cleaner. I’ve also used it in the living room and dining room as a polish replacement with a microfiber cloth. I have also used it in the bathroom as a sink and bath cleaner. It worked perfectly in all places. The spray has a light vinegar and lemon smell as your using it, but the smell dissipates almost immediately – My house does not smell like fish and chips if that’s what you’re wondering! I was happy to use it with the baby in the room, and my hands don’t smell after using it!

Cleaning our homes with chemicals is the norm, something we don’t think twice about. But when the question does pop into your mind it opens the floodgates to a whole host of other issues . . . what can I replace the toilet gel with? What is in baby soap and body cleaning products? What is in baby wipes? I will be investigating these issues and others, and putting some homemade alternatives to the test in the upcoming months.

If you’d like to use a homemade cleaning spray but don’t want to make your own, I’d be happy to help :-)

Let me know what you think of the issues raised? Did having a baby change the way you did any of life’s basic tasks? Have you used any homemade cleaning products? 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Homemade Changing Station

No need to buy a Nursery Furniture Set for upwards of £100. The cot is finished, and now for some storage and a changing station. The old set of drawers that have been in the garage for a year will work fine! Had a slight problem with the paint job - the original surface was highly waxed so spray paint was the only option. This still didn't work perfectly, but I'm still happy with the overall results!



I added stickers from the same set as I used in the cot.



I hung some pockets from the side of the unit to store bits for changing baby (Not sure what yet!)



So pleased with how the babies room is going so far!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Shabby Chic bathroom storage

Some of you may have seen the teaser I put on my Facebook page last week. In case you didn't here it is:

What are we making now?

We were making some storage for the bathroom. With a baby comes lots of . . . stuff!! We only had one small wall cupboard in the bathroom. Here is the space above the toilet before:

And here it is now:

I had to have some help from Hubby to saw the bottom part of the shelving unit. I white washed it in quite a shabby chic way - you can still see parts of the original wood coming through. I also cut up a old table cloth and created some curtains for the front of the unit. 



Starting to fill it with baby bits already!!

I'm really pleased with how it turned out, what do you think?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Honeycomb Nursery Decorations

Trying to decorate a nursery to be fitting for a 10 year old as well is proving . . . fun! We've painted the room a very light purple and fitted a new cream carpet, giving the room a fresh and clean feel. I've added some hanging honeycomb decs over the cot to replace a mobile. The wall honeycomb decs were given to my step-daughter as a birthday present. 

(Cot mattress and Valance coming soon . . .!)

And zoomed in:

I've used 3M Command decorating clips and fishing wire to hang the decorations.

Fantastic products!

What do you think of the decs so far?

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The completed cot!

I have finally finished the cot! Hurruh!! Here it is:

This was one of the trickiest pieces I've painted. Each of the bars is round, so really increased the amount of drips and drip marks that dried. I used a Gloss paint from the Little Paint company, which is a bit harder to use as well.
I kept the little animals, but removed the springs and washers.
I'm really pleased with the teddy stickers I bought. I am going to use the remaining stickers on either a chest of drawers of shelving unit for the room - which is best for storing babies things? Any advice gratefully received!

Here are some before and after photos of the cot:

Let me know what you think!!