Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover

Now that it’s been replaced by a larger one, I’m doing a pine chest of drawers makeover. I bought it used several years ago, particularly cheap because it had some pretty major scratching and staining, but never got around to refinishing it because it was needed for storage. While not top of the range (plywood drawer bottoms, and lacking the dovetail joints you find in the best pieces), it’s a solid piece with plenty of potential.

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover: Before
Before. All I’ve done is take off the handles.

The chest is now going to be part of staging our old house for sale. It’s a listed period cottage being sold in winter, so the look I’m going for is cosy, slightly rustic and built to last. This piece will be the only wooden bit in what I’m dressing as the guest bedroom, so I’m aiming to bring out the warmth of the wood and also add a bit of rustic/period charm. The dings and scratches are suddenly an asset!

It’s finished in antique pine varnish. That’s fine, but it’s also mass-produced. I think a low-sheen, waxed or oiled, finish gives a more period look. Which means getting the varnish off. I had a go with stripper, but it really wasn’t working very well (it seems to do much better with paint than varnish), so I switched to my orbital sander. That’s taken off a lot, but also revealed a hell of a lot of previously-invisible dents where the varnish stubbornly remains! Since these add character, I don’t want to sand them out (plus that would take ages), so it’s on to the wire wool. (I ended up using the stripper to soften the varnish a little and then mostly wire wool to scrub).

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover: SandedI also filled in the second set of hardware holes with antique pine filler. I definitely should have used one for natural pine, because it was really orange. Curiously, when I sanded it down with wire wool it went pink. Was that a reaction with the metal or does it always do that? Hmmm. I had trouble getting rid of the light circles around the holes too. To be honest, I didn’t solve that one.

You may have noticed that I haven’t sanded the top (actually I have, but only lightly). That’s because I have other plans for it. In the same vein as my Ikea Latt table makeover, I’m using marble-effect sticky back plastic [contact paper] to cover it. I love seeing old marble-topped pine washstands and other furniture, and this is the closest thing I can afford – not to mention get up the stairs.

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover: CornerSo how did that work? Pretty well across the top. The plastic is available in 45cm, 67.5cm and 90cm widths and can be bought in one or two metre lengths, so for this I needed one piece 67.5cm by 1m. I cut out a piece slightly bigger than I needed and then trimmed it when it was stuck down. I removed the backing a little at a time, smoothing it down to remove air bubbles. I got most of them – with a bit more patience I probably could have got all of them. I had more trouble with the sides and it really wasn’t sticking properly underneath. I ended up applying super glue, and using a wooden baton and clamps to hold the plastic in place while it dried. That worked just fine. I made a mistake with the corners though, by cutting them to size rather than folding the plastic over. It came unglued a little when I was moving the chest.

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover: HandlesThe chest originally had plain wooden knobs, but I picked up some white ceramic ones with a tea cup design on them, which I thought would go better with the marble. I do like them, but I think they would have coordinated better if the marble had been more black and white rather than grey and white.

So here’s the result of my pine chest of drawers makeover! Despite the problems, I think it looks pretty damn cool and a lovely addition to the room. Certainly loads better than before.

img_20161117_105952298Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover: After #2Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover: After #3

Simple Ikea Latt Table Hack

Simple Ikea Latt Table HackIkea hacks seem to be all the rage these days. Pinterest is full of the amazing furniture people have turned bog standard pieces into. For our Ikea Latt table, however, it was more of a rescue.  After much abuse at the hands of 4-Year-Old, the surface looked like a teenager’s skin. The chairs were spared only because I gave them to my sister for her little boy.

First I took it apart (bless whoever invented alan keys) and rubbed the whole thing down with wire wool (actually a kitchen pan scourer). It’s a bit rough for some surfaces, but it did a great job of cleaning up the legs and the worst of the dirt without risking more water damage to the hardboard top. The frame is plain pine – I like bare wood, but I might oil it to give it protection.

Ikea Latt Table 3I thought we’d have to replace the top. It turned out that the other side wasn’t bad, but it definitely needed a new surface. I’d been eyeing some granite-effect sticky back plastic at Yorkshire Trading (local chain selling a bit of everything) for ages and this seemed the perfect project to try it out on.


And here’s the result! Quick, simple and cheap, and the Ikea Latt table lives to see another day. The plan is to use clear sealant round the edges to make sure no water gets into the cracks. I even had enough left over to resurface a tray as well.Tra

[This week I also finally got out the sewing machine and sewed zips into the sofa cushion covers, which were previously sewn closed. My husband has had this sofa for ten years. I shudder to think what they’ve been through.]

Have you rescued any household items lately?

Bathroom Project – Walls & Floors Competition Entry

Okay, this is sort of a sponsored post. UK tile company Walls & Floors are running a competition to design a room and do a post and Pinterest board on it. The prizes are many lots of tile vouchers and I covet.

My bathroom

So, our bathroom is rather small – but quite light thanks to windows across two walls – and features the original aquamarine suite from when the house was built around 1980. And no, we haven’t run screaming for a wrecking ball. Yes, I know everyone’s all about white these days. The thing is, though, that it’s actually a nice colour (if it were avocado it would be a different story. I’d have put in the perfectly good suite the people over the road skipped last year). It’s also a good quality suite that is still in good condition after the best part of four decades. And it means we don’t have to tear the bathroom to pieces and fork out lots of money. We’re keeping it. So there. Hey, wait another couple of decades and it’ll probably be in style again!

Bathroom ceilingThe tiling, however, has to go. The green, vaguely-marble-effect might just about be tolerable if it weren’t for that awful border. Peek under the sink and there’s still a few of the original square aqua tiles clinging on for dear life. The ceiling is covered in polystyrene tiles and there was carpet on the floor. I’m surprised it didn’t sit up and object when we removed it.

Now, it’s quite common to combine a white suite with blue/green tiling, so I figure it’ll work the other way around as well. I am quite keen on the whole metro tile trend (I’ve no objection to following fashion so long as I like it), and I came across a truly brilliant idea on Pinterest – coloured grout!

White metro tiles with turquoise grout.

I’m not quite sure on the pattern yet. I’ll be re-reading 10 Really Interesting Things You Can Do With Plain White Tile.

Bathroom cabinetI’m also going with plain white walls. I picked up a large bathroom cabinet and matching mirror at a charity shop (thrift store to US readers) for £20, which is great because we really need the space. The amount of lotions, potions and medicines we have in there is astonishing. Right now I think they’re limed light wood, but I’m thinking I might paint them a nice slate grey and make that the third colour of the bathroom. I adore these tiles and they’re ceramic so I think they could work as a basin backsplash.

Carrying on the grey to the floor, right now we have vinyl which is a sort of slate tile pattern. If money was no object (i.e. if I won the competition – hint, hint), I’ve got my eye on these anti-slip grey wood effect tiles. I love wood effect – I had vinyl like that in my old house – and anti-slip tiles sound like a really great idea when you combine splashing water and running small persons.

CabinetIf I get really creative, I’m toying with the idea of turning this little cabinet (picked up on eBay for 99p) into a vanity unit around the sink. I don’t really like it as it is, but it’s very sturdy so it seems a shame to get rid of it. Blame Pinterest again for that idea. I’m thinking I’ll paint it white, change out the handles (I’ve got some pewter ones left over from our old kitchen), take out the drawers and make them into false fronts and either paint the top grey or use some slate-effect sticky back plastic wrap on it. Admittedly there is quite a list of other projects in front of that one, but if I ever get around to it I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Have you got any home improvement projects planned? Share Pinterest links below.


One Long Year in One Short Post

animal-1106359_640It’s been a long time since I posted here. I haven’t been writing much at all, actually. See, a while back I started suffering a lot of fatigue. I was doing two Zumba classes a week and walking a bit too, but I slowly dropped more and more because I just couldn’t find the energy. In the evenings you’d often find me lying on the sofa because I was too tired to sit up. Sometimes I’d cry over how exhausted I felt. I didn’t go to the doctor. I figured they’d say I needed to lose weight and do more exercise, which really didn’t seem achievable when normal living wore me out and sugar was all that got me through the day. So I struggled on, usually doing the bare minimum to keep everything running, for around 18 months.

Strangely enough, what actually got me to the doctor was developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Actually, I initially protested that diagnosis because I couldn’t think how I could have that as it’s generally a repetitive strain injury. I had it once before, when I was using the breast pump. A hands-free pumping bra took care of that. This time I couldn’t think of anything I did enough of to cause it. However, when I read a little about it, one thing that came up was that it could be a symptom of hypothyroidism.

The thyroid is a hormone-producing gland in the neck that you don’t notice until it goes wrong. When it does, it can cause havoc. The three most common symptoms of an underactive thryoid, which is what I have, are fatigue, weight gain and depression. If not diagnosed and treated, it can do a lot more damage behind the scenes. The bad news is, it’s incurable. The good news is, it can be treated by medication. [Also, it got me an NHS medical exemption certificate, so I now get all my prescriptions free.]

I’ve been on the meds for a few months now. Things are a little better, although we’re still playing with the dose. I’m trying to be a bit more active, and hopefully I can start to rebuild my fitness.

So that’s where I am, health wise. The other significant events in the past year were that my father passed away unexpectedly, the day after my 33rd birthday, and yesterday my daughter started school. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve cried plenty over both. But life keeps on happening, whether we like it or not.

Hope you’re well.


This Adulting Thing

This Adulting ThingIt’s a terrible thing being a grown-up.  As Dave Lister put it, you become “reliable, sensible, dependable… and lots of other words that end in ible.”  In particular, you find yourself doing all manner of things you don’t want to do in the present in order to protect your (and your family’s) future.

Last week I had a smear test, today I’ve booked an appointment for another go at giving blood (did it three times last time around – wet myself, fainted and nearly threw up.  Not all at the same time, fortunately.) and tomorrow I’m going into hospital to have a hemorrhoid removed.  Every winter I get a flu shot, even though I hate needles.  I pay money I can ill afford into my pension and yet more for life insurance and critical illness cover.  I have a will that names a guardian for my child.  I’ve even started a pension for her, even though she’s only three.

Sometimes, adult life seems to consist entirely of ‘today, I need to’ instead of ‘today, I want to’.  I’d like to smell the roses in the garden, but first I have to load the dishwasher, put on some washing, tidy up, answer some emails, get my library books ready to return, take in the food delivery, clean the windows…  It’s been sunny all day and the only time I set foot in the garden was when I put the dolls pram out in the sunshine to try and bleach out the mold stains.  That’s not right.

Tomorrow, I’ll try and focus on the here and now a little more.  After the hemorrhoid surgery, that is.

Don’t Forget the Lyrics! Choosing a Song for Your First Dance

Magical Weddings Boxset CoverI’ve been over on Rachel’s Random Reads this week, talking about avoiding the potential pitfalls in choosing a song for your first dance, as part of the Magical Weddings blog tour.

Out now and still only 99c!

Magical Weddings is Available to Pre-order!

Magical Weddings Boxset CoverMAGICAL WEDDINGS:
15 Enchanting Romances

Whether real or only in the hearts of the bride and groom, the magic of weddings is undeniable. And irresistible! As these 15 enchanting happily-ever-afters by bestselling and award-winning authors prove.

From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set, 14 of them new releases, cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love’s hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.

Her Wedding Wager by Leigh Michaels, National bestselling and Award-winning author of over 100 novels. Celia’s doomed to an arranged marriage—unless she can win the most important bet of her life!

The Last Wedding at Drayhome (Breens Mist Witches) by Aileen Harkwood. Never underestimate the power of a witch and warlock in love who have nothing left to lose.

The Dress by Eve Devon. Two couples, 400 years apart. From a masquerade ball in Venice 1615 to a wedding in England 2015, can a dress laced with magic weave its spell through the fabric of time?

Second Chance Bride by Raine English, USA Today bestselling and Award-winning author. She thinks she’s marrying the man of her dreams, until a telepathic rescue dog leads her to someone else… Will this bride-to-be say “I do” to the wrong man?

Two Hearts Surrendered by Tamara Ferguson, Bestselling and Award-winning author. Will two warring hearts be strong enough to survive the ultimate battle?

Something Borrowed, Something Blue by Lynda Haviland. She has a wedding to crash—until love gets in the way!

Heart of the Secret (Witches of Lane County) by Jody A. Kessler, Bestselling and Award-winning author. A 500 year-old curse, a witch who will do anything to marry her one true love, and the heart of a secret that will either divide them or bring them together…forever.

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel by Jane Lark, National bestselling author. How do you fight a calling that comes from your soul?

A Wedding Across the Winds of Time by Bess McBride, National bestselling author. Darius and Molly found each other Across the Winds of Time. Now, it’s time for their wedding!

Kiss This by L.L. Muir, National bestselling and Award-winning author. You never expect the florist to catch the bouquet…

Caution is a Virtue by Jennifer Gilby Roberts. How much is too much to risk for love?

Loving Lindy by Jan Romes. In order to become the bank’s new Vice President, Gunther Justin has to be “settled.” With Lindy McPherson posing as his fiancé everything is set to go off without a hitch—until real feelings get in the way.

With this Kiss by Heather Thurmeier. Does a simple kiss have enough magic to reunite lovers?

Real Magic by Elsa Winckler. She’s the bridesmaid, he’s a best man. Will the magical evening stay just that or will it turn out to be real after all?

The Wedding Guests (A Tassamara Short Story) by Sarah Wynde. When unexpected guests attend Akira and Zane’s wedding, lives will change forever. But for better or for worse?


PRE-ORDER NOW FOR ONLY 99C! | | other Amazon sites | Kobo | iTunes/Apple | Goodreads

[Will be on Barnes & Noble shortly]

We’re having a Facebook party TODAY.  I’m on from 4-4.30 pm EST (9-9.30 pm GMT).

Deleted Scene #4 From But I Said Forever

But I Said ForeverHere’s the final deleted scene from But I Said Forever. It’s a brief conversation between Brittany and Toby. In the end, I decided that Brittany didn’t really know him well enough to feel able to talk to him directly.  It’s a shame in a way, because it’s a nice little insight into Toby.


‘I do understand what you’re saying,’ Toby says, after I’ve barged into the kitchen as soon as I got a chance on Wednesday morning. ‘But I really think this is the right thing to do. We have talked about things, you know. Just because a lot of marriages fail doesn’t mean ours will. And even if it did, I’d rather fail than not try. Do you regret getting married?’

‘I… I don’t know.’

Toby wipes up some loose icing sugar, blushing slightly. ‘I think I’ll be a good husband. And if she hadn’t got pregnant, I’d probably never have plucked up the courage to propose. I’m not freaked out, you know. Well, a little, but only in a good way. I’m really looking forward to being a dad. And a husband. You know, being a real man.’

‘And I’m sure you’ll be great at it,’ I say, trying to quell my fears. ‘I’m just… I just want you both to be happy.’

‘And we will be.’

If only I could be as sure.

My Favourite Tools for Work From Home Jobs

I would describe myself as a work at home mum.  My daughter is three years old.  She now attends nursery three afternoons a week, and usually spends another one with Grandma, and the rest of the time she’s with me.  I don’t work for anyone else and I’m home-based, but I’m also registered self-employed and I do a variety of things to bring in money. I’m working on expanding my activities at the moment, as I’d rather like to remain self-employed even after she goes to school.  Although I do miss the company of working in an office, I like the flexibility and variety of working for myself (I never was much good at fitting in!).

For people that work from home – or anyone who uses the internet a lot – I thought I’d share the tools that make my work from home jobs easier. I’m discovering new ones all the time.

My Laptop

LenovoI used to joke that my parents’ house had more computers than people (my dad worked with them).  Now I have my own home and it’s exactly the same.  I like working on a laptop, but they’ve had trouble keeping up with me.

A while ago I googled ‘best laptops for writers’ and the consensus was that the best keyboards are on the older models of the Lenovo Thinkpad T-series (410-430, 510-530).  This meant getting a refurbished one, but I would have had to anyway because new Thinkpads are very expensive (they’re aimed at the business market).

Having destroyed my third keyboard on my old laptop, when the fan went my husband told me to get a new laptop.  I’d been making do for quite a while with bits not working properly, but I finally bit the bullet.  I now have a Lenovo Thinkpad T510.

So does the keyboard live up to reports?  Yes!  It’s so brilliant.  Typing is so much easier and more comfortable.  It feels like a desktop keyboard.  I love it and I whole-heartedly recommend one for work from home jobs, or if you just do a lot of typing.


DropboxBacking-up work is essential (ask any writer who’s just lost whole chapters or hours of editing) in work from home jobs.  I used to do it on a memory stick, but I didn’t remember to do it often enough.

I now use Dropbox for online storage and Microsoft Sync Toy to back up to it automatically.  I’ve got it set to update ever day, so now it’s all done for me.  Cool, huh?  And it’s all free!

Sign up to Dropbox through this link and we’ll both get an extra 500MB of storage space.


GrammarlyGood spelling and grammar are essential for work from home jobs that involve writing. Grammarly is an automatic checker, generally considered the best available.  This I pay for, but I think it’s worth it.  You can use in online for smaller documents and as a Word plugin on any length.  Although there’s no substitute for human proofreaders, Grammarly definitely goes a lot further than the free checkers available.

Have you got any great tools that you use for work at home jobs?

Follow Jennifer Gilby Roberts’s board Writing on Pinterest.

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This post has been part of:
Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
Thrifty Thursday @ Living Well, Spending Less

Where to Sell Your Old Books

SellBooksIf you’re anything like me, you have a lot of books.  Every so often, I’m forced to go through them and get rid of some just to reduce the risk of being found pinned under an avalanche of them.  Rather than just giving them away, this time around I’ve been trying to earn a little money (so I can buy more books!  Death by book slide, here I come…)

Since I want to get them out of my house fast, I haven’t been selling them individually.  Instead, I’ve been using two book-buying services:

Amazon Trade-In

The US version is well-established and takes all sorts of things, but the UK one is quite new and only accepts a limited catalogue.  Books have to be packed into boxes and dropped off locally (in the UK it’s at post offices or Collect+ stations).  Postage is free.

They pay in Amazon gift cards, and for my last order they were offering a bonus £5 off £10 spend voucher code when you traded in £15 worth of books.  Add that to the Amazon giftcards I’ve been earning through Swagbucks (another recent discovery – now I earn money from my search engine!) and I’m building up a very nice stash.

We Buy Books

We Buy Books is a UK only site that buys books, CDs, DVDs and games.  So far they’re my favourite, because they take a much wider range than the Amazon store, they will collect your packaged books from your home (Monday to Friday) and they pay in cash (by cheque, through Paypal or straight into your bank account). They also have occasional voucher codes to increase your payout.  As with Amazon, postage is free and payout only takes a few days.

Book Scouter

On Book Scouter, you type in the ISBN of a book you want to sell and it looks at all the book buying sites in the US to find you the one that’s offering the highest price for it.  Brilliant if you’re selling high value books like textbooks.

Have you used a book-buying site?

This post has been part of:
Thrifty Thursday @ Living Well, Spending Less
Frugal Friday @ Sarah Titus
Share the Wealth Sunday @ Fun Money Mom