Friday, 30 May 2014

DIY: Upcycled Pallet to Herb Garden

A herb garden was one of the first things J and I started planning for before we'd even moved into a flat with outdoor space.
A few weeks before we moved, we found this pallet and lugged it home with us, and started planning the garden.

There are loads of ways to customise a pallet for your needs, and even though we totally made this up as we went along it's turned out perfect for us and I can't wait to finish potting the remaining tasty herbs!

First, you need to decide how many "pockets" you want to create. J removed four of the slats from the front of the pallet so that we would end up with 6 pockets. You can keep all of the slats to create more (but smaller) pockets, but we wanted to give the herbs more space.

Then it's time to create your pockets. I was very haphazard with this and just cut a rectangle of landscaping fabric slightly larger than the gaps and then started tacking it into place. After lots of folding and tucking, you end up with a pocket; staple into place making sure that there are no holes at the bottom of the pocket.

This is what the pocket looked like after attacking it with a staple gun! You can trim away any excess fabric, but I didn't worry about this too much as the soil and herbs will cover it up.

Make the other pockets in the same way. We then placed some bamboo fencing (left behind by the previous tenants!) on the back of the pallet - again stapling it into place - just as a finishing touch. Then, fill your pockets with soil and fill with your chosen herbs.

To finish the whole thing off, I painted the slats in front of each pocket with blackboard paint and then labelled each one accordingly with a chalk marker. This proved doubly useful as the paint covered up the uneven wood stains from the slats removed in the beginning!

Even though this project has taken a while to come together - and will keep evolving - it is possibly one of my favourite DIY projects ever.
It was a project J and I could do together, it's a great way to upcycle, it's providing us with yummy herbs that we've grown ourselves, and if we decide to move again in the future, we can easily take it with us; it's a win win all round :)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Gluten Free Products: Sweet & Savoury

I'm not usually one for getting sucked into the world of gluten free treats.
Where I can I try to make everything from scratch, and if not just adapt standard recipes with gluten free ingredients (with varying degrees of success admittedly).

However, I was recently offered the chance to try out the above gluten free products, and having not tried any of them before I was excited to give them a go.

Straight away I want to sing my praises for the Secret Sausages and Amy's Kitchen Mac 'n' Cheese.
I think that gluten free meal options are generally harder to find off the shelf if you're looking for something quick and easy, and these two products fill that void perfectly.
The Secret Sausages are vegetarian as well as gluten free, and eating three sausages gives you one of your five a day. I loved the chilli and coriander ones and will (hopefully) be barbecuing the others this weekend - yum!

The Amy's Kitchen Mac 'n' Cheese was also amazing, and probably a much more reasonable portion than I would have if I'd made it from scratch (no judging please). The only thing I will say that I found odd is that on the packaging it states that the products are made in a factory that handles wheat.
Normally I'm really firm about this kind of thing and wouldn't buy a product if it says that - so it's slightly odd that a company specifically producing gluten free products hasn't addressed this.

Now, when it comes to sweet treats, there is a pretty big market out there. Not that this is a bad thing; I'm pretty much with Pippin from LOTR when it comes to how many meals are acceptable in a day.

A particular favourite snack bar of mine is Nakd bars, but I really do miss oats so I loved the Nairns Biscuit Breaks - the added chocolate chips made these a winner!
The 9Bar Breakfast bars have also been a nice treat as it means I can have a few extra minutes in bed in the morning and still feel like I'm not missing out on breakfast.

The Clearspring fruit pouches were the most unusual of these treats. Made from 100% fruit puree, these are some seriously tasty and refreshing snacks - you just have to get over the slightly strange "I feel like I'm eating baby food" sensation of them.

Overall I'm really impressed with these samples and will definitely be adding them all to my shopping lists in the future. It's so nice to see gluten free options growing so quickly - please, please, please, let doughnuts be next!

*PR samples*

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Crafting: My Second Quilt

Ah, such a familiar view!

I am currently in the midst of making my second quilt - but this time I have to keep it under wraps!
This quilt will be a present for my future niece or nephew who is due in June. I'm pretty sure my brother has better things to do than check out my bloggy rambles, but I won't be posting any photos of the finished quilt until I've given it to them - just in case :)

I've kept the design really simple because I went a little over the top with my fabric choices - it's super bright and colourful!
For some reason I feel a lot calmer with the task of making this quilt; I think I learnt so much from making mine that I just can't wait to have another go - and hopefully make an even better quilt!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

I was incredibly lucky to be given the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 from J for my birthday, and I love it!
My original polaroid camera was resigned to the "part of the furniture" category when film became too much of a hassle to get hold of, and this little guy is proving to be a worthy replacement.

I'm one of those people; nothing will ever be as good as holding the physical photograph in your hand - whether it's a single shot freshly developed in the dark room (oh how I miss those days), or an albums worth handed to you in an envelope.
For that reason I think I'll always think highly of the polaroid snapshot - even if the quality isn't as great or you've wasted a shot because you were blinking (Ahem, me. All. The. Time.).

The Fujifilm Instax has a few settings to choose from which so far have been pretty good - though I'm not so keen on the fact that the flash is automatic - I'm definitely a flash hater.
I've had a few shots that have come out perfectly, and others that have gone completely wrong. This can be annoying (and costly), but to me it's all part of the fun.

The credit card sized photos have also grown on me - I thought they'd be just a bit too small, but they're so cute and look great no matter how you display them. I have a little album at the moment, but I've seen them gridded up on the wall or pegged onto string - I think they'll be great for DIY'ing :)