Saturday, 27 April 2013

Why are the British spending a lot less on DIY?

According to the latest lifestyle report from Mintel – Brits are spending a lot less on DIY than they used to

Back in 2008 one in five claimed that they would spend a £1,000 windfall on home repairs, but that figure has dropped to only 1 in ten. It seems that as our budgets have become tighter we are re-evaluating out priorities. According to the report our top three priorities are now paying the bills, adding to our savings for that rainy day and saving for big ticket purchases – leaving little or no cash for home repairs, maintenance and redecoration.

 These are worrying statistics as not only does a lack of maintenance potentially result in a very expensive emergency, but it also affects how we feel about our homes and our lives. Brightening up your living space can give you a real boost. It can be as good, if not better than going on holiday. And in troubled times we need to find every little way we can to make ourselves feel more positive and in control of our lives.

In addition we Brits are spending more evenings in front of the TV as nights out become more of a treat. And this means more of us are cooking from scratch, which can only be good for our health, waistlines and wellbeing.

Feeling the pinch? Hurry up and enter our competition and you could win a gift card from B&Q worth £150 – just think what you could do with that….and how much better you will feel with a newly decorated home. 

For DIY inspiration visit the site
 >>First impressions are lasting impressions - ideas and inspiration for making over your hallway
>>Are you MAD not to move house?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Time for me to stop papering over the cracks!

I had great fun today!  I was invited by the lovely people at B&Q to try out one of their ‘You can do it’ courses.  Their courses are run from various branches around the UK and are aimed at making it easier for you to do DIY. The idea is to give you the confidence to have a go in your own home. The stores have a special section where they run the courses with proper working mock ups of rooms so you get a real hands-on experience. So not only will you be able to create your own dream home…you’ll be able to save a fortune doing all those nagging little jobs yourself!

The courses last about three hours and include a range of different techniques to learn.  The one I attended was about hanging patterned wallpaper.  Now if I’m going to be really honest here, I have to admit that my heart sank just a little. As a seasoned decorator I did wonder what on earth are they were going to find to fill 3 hours!   

But I was pleasantly surprised!  Not only did the time whizz by, but I learned some really useful new techniques as well. Like most people I’m self taught when it comes to decorating so it was great to get a professional’s viewpoint and learn the proper way to tackle turning a corner etc.It made me realise how long I'd been papering over the cracks in my knowledge...and how much time I could save by doing things properly from the start.

It was good fun, I worked with some great people, I definitely came home with some really useful tips…..and an overwhelming urge to redecorate my living room!

I would definitely recommend that you have a go – it doesn’t matter how much we think we know, we can always learn something new.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

£300 for you to spend on a home improvement project

Over on the website we're running a new competition. We've teamed up with Wickes, the UK's leading home improvement supplier, to find out what your ultimate home improvement project would be. The winner gets £300 to spent at Wickes and 4 runners up each get £25 each.

So get yourself over to the main site and share your inspiration. 

What would it be - swanky new floors for the dining room, taps and tiles in the kitchen, a new bath? Would you paint or wallpaper your way to a new look?

Maybe you need some tools to get the job done? Personally, I've always fancied a pressure washer. Maybe then I'd get the patio looking exactly the way I want it, with a fire pit in the centre, so I can toast my toes even when its chilly.

Win £300 to spend at Wickes

Good luck!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Here's what I just made!

I don't like carrying paintbrushes in my pencil case so decided to make a waterproof roll for both brushes and pencils using laminated cotton fabric from our MIAMI shop. 

I'll be posting the instructions for this on the website shortly - but I'm very pleased with the result - and made from just a quarter metre of fabric plus some cotton fabric for the edging from my stash - and a couple of buttons.
So now I'm all set for my painting holiday in the Scilly Isles next month - can't wait!

We'll also be offering a pencil case kit to make shortly - all ready complete with instructions and supplied by our MIAMI Shop partners RU Craft. More news on this soon!

Clare F

Friday, 17 August 2012

The best things in life are free...

Well derrr….you don’t say?  There are moments in life when I wonder about the value of research – and I say this as a researcher!  Do Sainsbury’s need to spend a vast amount of money to realise that children prefer the simple things in life? 
Sainsbury’s have created a ‘pleasure per penny index’ by asking children aged 5 to 11 to rank their favourite holiday activities according to how happy they make them feel and how special and memorable they are….and guess what? -  playing in the garden or park, water fights or building a den come out on top, while expensive day trips out are way down the list. 

Contrary to popular belief, children value time spent with friends and family over material entertainment. Intuitively this is something we parents already know, but the problem is that we're conditioned to feel guilty that we aren’t doing enough for our children if we don’t take them out to theme parks and fast food restaurants.

Newsflash!…if left to their own devices children don’t get bored! They might have a few moments of whingeing, but they very quickly find something to do and can entertain themselves for hours.  A little  boredom is actually good for kids as it helps them develop their creative skills.  If we constantly force-feed them entertainment, we're denying them the chance to learn to enjoy being alone and find ways to entertain themselves. 

Even on a rainy day there are plenty of things to do.  Give them paper and paints, or salt-dough, or let them build a den and they'll be happy for hours.

So back away from the theme park, keep your hand away from your wallet and give your kids a summer holiday they'll remember!

We've got lots more ideas to keep the kids happy over the holidays

 >> Great ways to entertain the kids in the holidays  
 >> Recycled crafts for kids
  >> Get the best from your holiday

Hilary B

Friday, 3 August 2012

Advance copy of our new book arrives!

The first advance copy of Make it and Mend it, our new book, arrived today.

The book is already pre-selling on Amazon in both UK and USA as well as other online bookstores, including Waterstones and Blackwells. It will be in the shops around about October - just in time for you all to buy it for Christmas gifts! - or add it to your wish list.

The illustrations are beautiful - thank you to the lovely photographer Sian Irvine.

Here are a couple of spreads - snapped on my kitchen table - shown here are Stained glass biscuits and how to make a cake stand from old plates - both of these were Hilary's creations.

Clare F

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Lifting a rainy day with decoupage bunting

Decoupage bunting
It being the summer of 2012, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when testing out the new Make it and Mend it Rainy Day Pack, that bunting would feature large in the imaginations of my two trusty testers - Florrie and Martha.

In fact Martha got stuck in with gusto as soon as she realised just how easy it is to decoupage (the art of covering objects with decorative paper).

The girls were testing MIAMI's new Rainy Day Pack designed to inspire kids' imaginations and get their finger creating when stuck inside during what looks to be the wettest British summer most of us can remember!

It's a real mixed bag of materials with fabric, card, pens, needles, thread and wool we've specially picked to give them loads of ideas - and test their making skills. 

They used cardboard from an old cereal packet to cut the pennant shapes and then started covering them with the Pack's special decoupage papers with the special quick drying thin decoupage paste. As soon as the pennants were all covered, they were dry and simply needed stringing up. 

Amazingly enough the girls now have 2 metres of their own decoupaged bunting to decorate their room. And believe me - the 'I did that' factor makes all the difference.

Added to which there was a selection of cards, purses and friendship tokens produces. Brilliant work and if it hadn't been a school night I expect our little production line would have gone on for far longer than the 4 hours they spent using their imaginations and learning brand new skills.

Buy your own Rain Day Pack through RUCraft, Make it and Mend it's shop partner. It's  a life saver for this especially wet summer!

Martha and Florrie and their Rainy Day pack
PS: we're going to be publishing a gallery of the most imaginative projects made from the Rainy Day Packs. Have Fun. Clare O'B. Check out the MIAMI site for more 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Doing a spot of decoupage

I was about to chuck out this very tired old lampshade. Just as my hand hovered over the dustbin I pulled it back and decided to spend an hour trying to rescue it. Here's the before:

 And here's the after. Not bad eh? I haven't varnished it yet. Will do that and post the instructions on the website.

Meanwhile here's Hilary's instructions for a decoupage dining chair and a decoupage kitchen cupboard door.

Instructions and video now on website and our You Tube channel

Clare F

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Homemade Home for Children

Following on from her fabulous book, The Homemade Home, Sania Pell has written The Homemade Home for Children, a beautifully produced publication with 50 child-friendly projects for parents to make for their children. There are also projects suitable for kids to make themselves.

The book is lavishly illustrated with colour photographs of the finished items and line drawings of the steps involved. Interspersed between the main projects are Quick Ideas - projects that can be done with a minimum of time and effort - such as pictures made from children's handprints.

There are ideas for personalising kids bedrooms, easy to make dressing up projects, jewellery made from buttons, vintage dolls and felt brooches - a cornucopia of ideas to delight your children. You can make your kids a garden playhouse using remnant fabric and your clothes line. Sania also makes good use of found objects, remnants and oddments, such as making a sail boat from an old tin bath, a dolls' house from an old bookcase and storage boxes from old suitcases. So the ideas in here aren't going to cost you a lot of money. 

This book would also make a fantastic gift for any creatively minded parent or grandparent.  
The Homemade Home for Children

Clare F

Friday, 29 June 2012

Cake Glorious cake

MIAMI team meeting at Clare O's today and we've been admiring the birthday cake she's made for her god daughter's Hollywood style birthday party.

It's based on Nigella's Malteser cake and features Maltesers transformed into glitter balls. Looks scrummy - and in order to prevent us from stealing it, Clare has even made a jam and cream sponge for us to have. Can't wait

Clare F

For loads of cake baking recipes check out the main site

Friday, 1 June 2012

Britain has gone bunting mad!

Its official: the British love a bit of bunting and there’s nothing like a royal celebration to bring it out in full force.  Wherever you look in cities, towns, small hamlet or out in the wilds, there's bunting fluttering in the breeze.

It seems that bunting brings out the party animals in all of us and sums up our summer celebrations.  But don’t panic if you haven’t got your bunting out yet. There’s still time to make some.  It’s really easy and can be very cheap to make if you choose the right materials.You don’t have to buy fancy fabric and spend hours stitching it perfectly.  
The joy of bunting is that it's fun and free.  Just grab some tape and some old clothes and start cutting. 

You can use old clothes, shirts, sheets cut into triangles and sewn onto a strip of tape to make quick and easy bunting.

Better yet, you don’t even have to use fabric or a needle and cotton.  You can make fabulous bunting from old books, newspapers, even plastic bags stapled to a piece of tape – it really is that easy. 

Even good old salt dough can be turned into the party spirit.  You could make salt dough into flags, pennants, roses or even corgis if you felt like.  

So what are you making your bunting from?

For more ideas and instructions:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Queen in a day!

Fancy knitting your very own Royal family? 
Well you can start with the Queen!
Deramores have teamed up with Fiona Goble and are giving away a free pattern for this fun 
Elizabeth II Jubilee Doll