Friday, 22 August 2014

Pay It Forward ~ 2nd Blogiversary

A post with a difference 
to mark 
Sprout's House's 2nd Birthday!

It can not have failed to escape your notice that there are some terrible things happening in the world at the moment ~ the killing of journalist James Foley, the Ebola epidemic that continues to threaten lives and communities, the ongoing conflict in Gaza to name just a few.

Pay It Forward

It can be hard when the world seems so full of suffering and hardship to feel positive about the future, but we all have the ability to create more happiness and positivity in the world. This week the following showed up in my Facebook news feed.....

After all the recent terrible tragedies that have happened and are happening, this world needs as much kindness as it can get.....
I'm participating in the Pay it Forward initiative: 
the first five people who comment on this status with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point during this calendar year- anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown, homemade, a postcard..... absolutely any surprise!
There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once my first five have commented "I'm in" I will forward this message to put on your status. (Don't share it) so we can form a web of connection of kindness.
Let's do more nice and loving things in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other.
Here's to a more enjoyable, friendly and love filled year.... Also, when I PM to you, I will need you to PM your address back to me (if I don't already have it!). xx

I replied and now have a team of five (or six if you count my lil' sis who snuck in at the end!) who will receive something from me.

Whilst I am under no illusion, opting in is not going to cure world hunger, prevent terrorist attacks or improve the living conditions of millions of people around the world, but it is going to encourage people to shift their focus away from themselves and their own lives and think of others. It is going to promote thoughtfulness, kindness, reflection and consideration. It is not about spending vast amounts of money or showering your team with gifts; it's about thinking carefully and considerately about what might make them happy, what they might need and when they might need it. It could be a book, a voucher, a home cooked meal or even help around the house.

It was interesting to see who responded - I ended up with two colleagues, an ex-colleague, a uni friend, a teacher training friend and of course my sister. All from a variety of different backgrounds, different ages; some married, some not; some with children or child on the way, some without; some living nearby, some living abroad. Each of those five will end up with their own five people and so the chain will continue.

If you see this message pop up in your news feed, why not consider opting in or simply copy the message above and start your own 'Pay It Forward' chain. The more people involved the more happiness and positive vibes that will be generated.

Sprout’s House

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

How to Wash Soft Toys

If you're anything like us, your little Sprout(s) have a small mountain of soft toys with one or two firm favourites that have probably seen better days! But can you remember the last time you washed them? I have to confess I can't..... not even the the most loved of the bunch. If I really dig deep, I may have a distant memory of them enjoying a snorkel in the washing machine around about the time Sprout had chicken pox and a chest infection, but even then I couldn't be totally certain. 

So earlier this week Sprout's soft toys enjoyed a 'spa' date with the washing machine. 

Here's my guide to washing your child's cuddly toys as quickly and painlessly as possible -

1.Wash all the toys as soon as you get up in the morning. This will give you a pretty good chance of getting the favourite ones dry by bedtime.

2.Check whether the toys are suitable for the washing machine. It's very easy to shove the whole lot in and start the wash before remembering that one in particular is battery powered or has delicate decoration - a couple of our Hello Kittys are minus a few bows because of my overenthusiastic washing!! Ooops!!

3.Choose a washing powder that is gentle enough for your child yet powerful enough to get those toys really clean. We use Simply Sensitive which is dermatalogically tested, phosphate free and carries the Vegan Trademark. It has great cleaning power, however what we like the most is that once washed the toys smell clean, but not with the over powering scent you get from other washing products!

4.Choose a suitable cycle. Depending on your machine you'll probably be able to control all the elements of the cycle. I chose a delicate cycle that washes at 40 degrees, rinses 4 times to ensure all suds have been washed out and spins at 1200rpm. You could probably lower it to 800rpm if your toys are really delicate, but it might prolong the drying time because less water is removed.

5.Identify how you are going to dry all the toys - outside on the line, in the tumble drier or on a radiator. Again make sure the favs enjoy the quickest method to avoid those pre-bedtime meltdowns!!

Why bother washing? Washing helps to keep germs at bay, minimise dust mites and prevent allergies and asthma. Think about it like this - you probably change your sheets every 1-2 weeks and yet your child doesn't drag their sheets down the stairs on a daily basis, take their sheets to the park, throw their sheets into the footwell of the car or take their sheets to pre-school..... 

How do you keep your child's soft toys clean?
Leave me a comment below.

Sprout’s House

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Spare Room Progress

It's been a dusty weekend at Sprout's House - we decided to demolish the spare room!

Spare Room Progress Before

We chose to tackle the spare room (the room at the front on the top right) first as in our minds this is the room that needs the least doing to it in terms of electrics and heating!! During this phase of improvement, we're going to add a couple of extra sockets and some spot lights, but we are not going to upgrade the radiator until we get around to overhauling the entire heating and plumbing system.

So here's how the room looked before.....

Spare Room Progress Before

Spare Room Progress Before

Spare Room Progress Before

Spare Room Progress Before

Spare Room Progress Before
The best - it stored loads - but ugliest and most inconveniently placed cupboard ever. The contents of which is now strewn across the landing.

Here's how it looks now.... (no laughing!! ;-))

Or watch on YouTube

Spare Room Progress Before
A Dust Tan!

The reason we're knocking off all the plaster is that our house suffers from a lot of dampness mainly because it has been covered with modern materials. Modern day plaster on the inside and cement render on the outside mean that she literally can't breathe and so if there is a build up of moisture inside the house it can't escape hence our immense damp problems. We're going to use this room to test out some breathable products ~ lime plaster and wood fibre insulation. If successful, we'll then be able to use them throughout the rest of the house.

If anyone has any advice or tips leave a comment below!

Sprout’s House

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Desk Dilemma

I have finally started sanding Sprout's old fashioned desk. Hooray! Those of you who have been following our adventures for a while may remember that this was one of the presents we bought for her third birthday and I had grand plans to renovate it over the summer holidays - last year!

This was how the desk looked a couple of days ago....

Desk Dilemma

and here she is now! Isn't she so much more beautiful now all that paint has been removed? 

Desk Dilemma

There is still a little bit more sanding to do, but hopefully I'll finish that over the weekend.

Now comes the difficult part - what to do with the desk next? I am quite keen to continue experimenting with Annie Sloan's chalk paints (I used them for the Memory Boxes) and of course Sprout is very keen on a pink theme. She has approved two colours so far which luckily tie in with the curtains she already has in her room.

Desk Dilemma
However having seen how beautiful the desk is underneath all that hideous paint, I am wondering whether it would be a shame to cover up the wood again. Perhaps just a layer or two of wax would be enough?

Let me know your thoughts and have a great weekend.

Sprout’s House

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Washi Tape Wires

We have just finished a week of cleaning and purging here at Sprout's House, and already the house feels lighter and brighter. The sitting room was one of the last rooms I tackled and I nearly lost the will when I noticed this...

Eek....double eek in fact! It was a tangle of wires along with layer upon layer of dust! 

So here's how to tame those unruly wires with some washi tape!

Remove equipment that you no longer use - out went the Freesat box. (No reason to keep dusting something you don't use!)

Switch off and unplug all the equipment, dust the flexes and then wrap a piece of washi tape around each cable at the plug end. Label the washi tape so that you know which plug belongs to which piece of equipment.

For the sake of simplicity, you can also wrap a small piece of washi tape around the cables that connect the boxes to the TV and each other so it is easy to identify which wire belongs to which box!

And ta-dah you're done. 

Here's to quick tasks that help tidy things up!
What 5 minute tricks do you have up your sleeve to help you tidy?

Sprout’s House