Thursday, 28 May 2015

New Block Shed - Self Build Part 2 - Footings & Floor Prep.

After all the digging out was complete it was time to start with the concrete footings. These are 450mm wide & 6 inches deep. The reason they are so wide is to displace the weight of the blocks for the walls above. For some reason I have no pictures of this but it's quite self explanatory. 
You dig out the footing & take a tape measure to check the depth. When I was about deep enough, I cut up a load of bits of 20mm pipe I had in the shed. Then I put one in the trench so 6 inches of pipe was sticking up. Then with a spirit level, move about a metre away & put the next tube in level with the last. This will give you a level all the way round & then you'll see where you are too high or too low. They are also then used as gauges for when you poor in the concrete. As my footings were slightly too wide I then put some wooden shuttering on the insides of my trenches to make them narrower. From this I could then calculate how much concrete in cubic metres I needed for the footings. Mine was 450mm x 150mm x 16m = 1.08m3
 I priced up mixing it myself, but it really is not worth mixing that amount by hand any more. Get it delivered premixed; it's cheaper & quicker. I got my dad & my brother-in-law Freddie, 3 wheel barrows & we were done & dusted within about 40 minutes ready for a bacon sandwich & cup of tea. It was around £170 but buying the unmixed materials would've been £180 & taken a whole day mixing.

Once the footings are in it was time to start the wall, which then acts as shuttering for the concrete floor. It's important at this time to make sure you start your walls off square as it makes it easier for the roof later. I've laid bricks where they will be visible, but blocks everywhere else as they are equivalent to laying 6 bricks, so are so much quicker. A 3, 4, 5 triangle made out of wood is very useful for getting a right angle for your corners or measuring from corner to corner is another way of checking you're square. 

I am not a bricklayer but I have done some before. However I decided as I will be doing a lot with this I would make a tool to make laying the blocks easier. It works really well and makes the bedding of blocks much neater & solid. 

Cement mixer
Trowels: plasterer's & bricklayers
Levels 600mm & 1800mm
rubber mallet
Angle grinder
bolster & hammer

My tips for brick laying are: 
Try not to get the concrete on the brick faces & if it does, wipe if off straight away.
Use a small plasterer's trowel for bricklaying; it has a much smaller handle & your hand won't ache at the end of a days laying. Use a big pointed trowel for pointing up your bricks. 
Only check for levels after a good few are down, not just one or two. 
Wipe your bricks down with a damp cloth at the end of the day.
Make sure to check for levels of your wall vertically & horizonally.


Once the wall to shutter the floor was done, it was time to put a load of hardcore in, which is then compacted down & concrete poured on top. It's easy to work out how much you need. I got enough to leave a 4 inch concrete floor. As I was having soil taken away the week before, I got them to bring the hardcore at the same time & only had one haulage charge then too. The stone worked out at about £35 for 3 tonnes so is a lot cheaper than buying in bulk bags from a builder's merchant. I hired the compactor ''wacker'' plate from Travis Perkins for £20 for the day, but it only takes an hour (or 2 with Raph & Etta playing chasing it around)

Next is the Floor & starting the block work so stay tuned.

Post by Rob

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Crabtree & Evelyn Shaving Soap

We were really kindly sent some great shaving products and it was really nice, for a change, to be sent something which I could really enjoy on my own! 

Crabtree & Evelyn West Indian Lime Shave Cream

Not in a bragging way; I have excellent skin. Emily is very jealous & I am also not very hairy, which means infrequent shaving. However, when I do need to shave (usually once or twice a week) it can make my skin quite sore & dry. It might be because my face isn't so hardened to shaving due to the irregularity or it might be that I don't change the blades regularly enough. Either way, I found that this shave cream from Crabtree & Evelyn made my skin feel like I hadn't shaved, apart from the really nice aroma left behind after washing it off. If you have problems with dry skin or soreness after shaving then I would definitely give this a try! (Plus the tube squeezer key for scraping every last drop out of your tubes is great for all the Dads).


Crabtree & Evelyn Shave Soap

Now, when I first looked at this shave soap, I wasn't sure if it would be any good & just seemed a bit dated for the modern man. Why would I need to use a brush with soap when I have foam in a can? Anyway, I reluctantly gave it a go thinking it would cut my face to pieces like an old ''Bic'' razor with no lubrication. 

I asked Emily about it & she said her dad used to use shave soap so I was given the direction to really fluff up the soap with a brush. So, I put a new blade in my razor, got my brush, a little water & started brushing the soap. I must admit that it made a real event of shaving. It felt great using this soap & made me feel a little nostalgic about how my grandparents probably used to shave. 

Both products are great for different reasons, but ultimately both give a really nice protection from shaving, so if you get sore from shaving; try one of these.  

Post by Rob


Monday, 25 May 2015

A Mother's Dressing Table

I have such strong memories of scents from my grandmother's dressing table. The main one being her Chanel perfume. I also always remember being pouffed with body powder and that scent is still in my mind today. My grandma had beautiful jewellery sat in pots and loads of Clinique skin and make-up products on the top of the table. In the draws were: bundles of kirby grips and rollers, different sized brushes and collects hair and make up trinkets. It was a treasure trove of products and something that my sisters and I took delight in rummaging through every time we were at their house. We would sit in front of her huge mirror and do our own hair and make up using her things; she probably had to buy new after every visit!
My mum always kept baskets of jewellery on her dressing table (I think too many young children went for the make up so it was moved onto higher shelves in the bathroom!) My mum is a collector of all kinds of little antique trinkets so her room is full of vintage bits and pieces. Their are boxes of her precious keepsake, glass dishes that reflect the light and cabinets of old classic baby rattles in the emporium that is her bedroom and dressing room; they always need a nosey around!

It is the magic of a women's dressing table that can be so interesting and telling of the owner.
My mum always made sure I had a mirrored dressing table in my bedroom. In later years my Dad painted me one with girly characters on it so it was more fitting to my younger teenage persona. It was something I always had though and even as I grew up and hair brushes were moved aside for work books, I always had one.

Now at our house, I wouldn't say I have a dressing table as such. I have the top of a chest of drawers but it is what fits in our attic conversion. I have been trying to make it more like a dressing table though with bowls of trinkets and my body lotions. I want Raph and Etta to be able to finger through the sparkly things and explore their mummy's little treasures. It's part of growing up isn't it? Parading around in your mum's Pearl necklace as she cries from the other side of the room to take it off before it is broken! It's all exploration.
My dressing table still has time to grow and I keep adding little pieces that allow for more trinkets to be kept. I find that I am creating spaces for precious items but also daily ones which allow me to look and ponder each morning at all of the little things I have.

Post by Emily

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Baby Show

I was privileged enough to be able to go along to The Baby Show at the NEC centre in Birmingham last week. It is a huge exhibition of stalls with all of your big or boutique branded baby products. It is an event not to be missed for first time parents who want guidance on what to buy or for parents who want to get the newest products on the market. From pushchairs to cots, bibs to bottles; the show offers a huge range of products to suit all of the need of babies and toddlers.

With expert speakers teaching you about first aid, sleep, breastfeeding and baby nutrition, there is opportunity to learn and develop your own knowledge. I was really interested in Jo Tantum who is a baby sleep expert. I was lucky enough to interview her and ask her lots of questions about sleep and routines. Check the blog in the next few weeks for more on that!

As I walked around I couldn't believe the amount of products that were there. I only started having babies about 4 years ago and I was not one of these people who reads billions of books and scours online to know everything about everything. I was confident in what had to be done due to the life experiences I already had via my numerous brothers and sisters. I would have never gone to anything like this, but also I didn't even know it existed until recently. The amount available to new mums is quite phenomenal. 
The show had it all in one place and people were carrying around hoards of bags of goodies to prepare them, or to stock up with new bits and pieces. 

The other good thing about the show that I think makes it more attractive is that most people offer a 'show price' which means if you were looking at purchasing pushchairs, cots, beds and large furniture items; you would find a really good deal, so it is worth visiting to be able to buy what you need for a better price than on the high street.

With the vast array of beautiful products, I almost felt like redecorating the kids' rooms! I did feel that the show wasn't necessarily catered to the mother who had toddlers and older. I think the age range is definitely suited to babies, (hence the 'baby show) but if you wanted to update toddler beds or purchase things like new pushchairs or nursery furniture then it is worth it. 

It also had lots of smaller stalls with more boutique like products. Beautiful children's clothes, special car seat blankets, baby body products and much more. I will be posting additional posts on a couple of these items that I bought from the show.

The next show is in London in October this year; click HERE to go to the website and find out more.
Thank you to The Baby Show team for inviting me along. It was a really great experience and has made me think so much about motherhood and how I parent. 
Listening to some of the professionals, I feel newly revived in trying new concepts in my own life and with our children.

Post by Emily

Home Made Cake Toppers

I was very much inspired by Pintrest when I was thinking about what I wanted to do for Rob's birthday cake. I always find it hard making a cake masculine when it isn't a themed cake. For ease I did a three layer victoria sponge and then covered it in blue butter cream. 

After looking at Pintrest cakes I decided that I could easily make something for the top myself. There are so many great ideas and they could all be used for either gender and make a cake a bit more personal.

Knowing I had a draw full of kebab sticks; I got out my heart and dot hole punches and some metallic card and got popping out some shapes.
I simply taped each shape to the top of the kebab stick and that was it!
The finished effect was simple and pretty and with some gold and silver balloons we had it all matched well.

Post by Emily

Family Fashion Photo Shoot - Blossom Walks

I have said before that my parents are lucky enough to have a lot of blossom trees in their garden so there wasn't a more perfect place to get some shots of the kids and me.
As the spring weather gets warmer it's nice wearing lighter clothes and getting your legs out. We had a few lovely key spring pieces that are making dressing in the slightly warmer weather easier. The most obvious being all our macs. A good mac style trench coat is perfect for this kind of weather and then for the early autumn when you can just pop a jumper under one as you head into the cooler weather.

I wore; Marks and Spencer all round!!M&S TrenchM&S DressM&S Shoes
Raphael wore; River Island (Sale) mac, Next ShortsNext ShoesNext Shirt
Etta wore; Next Jacket (sold out online), old H&M Tunic, Next JeansInch Blue Shoes

Post by Emily

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