Sunday, 28 April 2013

Clean Makeup Brushes with Vinegar!

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It's no secret that I love using white vinegar for cleaning purposes (it's cheap, green and effective... what's not to love?). So when someone told me recently that they use vinegar to clean their makeup brushes I was intrigued. And since my brushes were in dire need of a thorough washing I thought I'd put it to the test.

You will need:

White vinegar
Warm water
Baby shampoo

  • Mix one part warm water to one part white vinegar. Add in a couple of drops of baby shampoo. The latter isn't terribly important and you can leave it out if need be, but it will make your brushes feel softer and they'll smell lovely and clean too. (For those of you worrying this method will leave your brushes stinking of vinegar, it really doesn't).

  • Swirl the dirty brushes around in this mixture. Watch all the disgusting residue come off the brushes. Eew.

  • Rinse the brushes under warm water. That's it. Reshape and leave to dry by standing brush side up in a cup or a jar. 

This technique for cleaning makeup brushes is amazingly effective and will leave the brushes as good as new with very little effort! I used to clean mine with baby shampoo, which worked but I would have to rinse the brushes under the tap for quite some time before the water ran clear. With this vinegar method the water ran clear from the moment I rinsed the brushes as the vinegar had removed so much makeup residue already. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Free Printable: Kitchen Labels

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On Tuesday I posted a tutorial on how to make labels with Microsoft Word. It was only written as a response to a reader's question, but I got a little carried away with the whole label making thing and decided I was going to create some new labels for my kitchen. And because I'm the caring sharing type I've added some more general purpose labels and put it up for download as a free printable.

The second printable comes with 12 labels for common pantry items. I've left one label blank for doing your own customised versions - just use a white Sharpie to write in the name of your store cupboard essential.

I've treated myself to some self adhesive sticker paper to print the labels onto. No doubt I'll be sharing lots more labels and sticker related crafts if the results are good (the reviews are positive, so fingers crossed)! When life is a little less busy I'll do a post on my prettier and more organised kitchen cupboards.  

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

How to Make Labels with Microsoft Word

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About 6 months ago, when my blog was still quite new, I posted a tutorial on how to make labels in Microsoft Excel. Which is how I came to receive this email a couple of weeks ago:

"Hi! I'm new to your blog and have just spent three hours going through all your old posts. I really like the tutorial you did on making labels in Excel. You make it look easy but Excel scares me! Can you make labels with Word too (I'm alright with that!)?? Would you do a tutorial on it pretty please??"

Yes, you can absolutely make all sorts of labels with Microsoft Word. It's easy once you know what you're doing, too! 

How to make labels with Word

First of all you will need to create a blank document. Then go to 'Insert' and select 'Shapes' to start creating your label. There are loads to choose from - in this tutorial I've used a shape called "plaque". 

Generally, I need my labels to be roughly a certain size so the first thing I'll do is alter the dimensions so the label is the right size when I print it out. To do this, right click on the shape and scroll down to the bottom of the options to select 'Format AutoShape'. 'Size' is on the second tab.

Before I click OK I'll also make changes to the line style. This is on the first tab under 'Colors and Lines'. You can pick any colour you want and determine the thickness of the line. If you look under 'Dashed' you can also choose between a solid or dashed outline. I've kept the outline black, solid and selected a weight of 3pt.

If you want to change the background of the label, go to 'Format' and select 'Shape Fill' (the bucket icon). Pick a colour from the colour for a solid background, choose a gradient style, use a picture or select a pattern or texture you love. Rather than use a texture from the library I've added a custom chalkboard background (you can add your texture by going to Texture/More Textures and then uploading your file to the Other Texture box).

Next you will probably want to layer another shape on top. Just follow all the same steps you did for the first shape (select the shape, make it an appropriate size, adjust line style, pick a background... whatever). The majority of the time when I make labels this way I will add a white shape on top to make the text easy to read, but since I'm going with a chalkboard vibe I added a chalkboard texture again. The only different between the second and first shape - other than the obvious difference in size - is that I used a dashed line in white, with a weight of 6pt.

If you're happy with how your label looks then it is time to add your text. To do this, select 'Insert' from the top menu, click on the 'Text Box' icon and select 'Draw Text Box'. Click and drag your mouse over the top of your shape to create your text box.

If your text is against a white background you can skip straight to add the text. But if, like me, you're using a coloured or textured background you'll want to make your text box background transparent. To do this, go to 'Format', click the 'Shape Fill' icon and select 'No Fill'. To make the outline of the text box transparent too, select 'Shape Outline' and then 'No Outline' (I left the outline black in this tutorial).

Nearly done! Type in your text and edit it the same as you would any other text in Word. On the 'Home' tab pick the font, text size, colour, style and alignment. I used a font called chalkboard in white, with a size of 36.

At this point feel free to declare yourself done and print out your fabulous new label. I like to do one final thing; grouping the layers. This just means that you can move the label around on the page as a complete image, rather than having to click and drag each layer individually. You can also re-size the image as a whole, if you need to. If you want to do this you will need to click on each separate layer and press the CTRL key. This is easiest if you work from the inside out (so text/smallest shape/largest shape).

Once all layers are selected right click on the image and select 'Grouping' and then 'Group'.

And now you really are finished! Go nuts and experiment with your new found label making skills. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

How to Clean an Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar

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Before I get into the nitty gritty of how to clean an oven with baking soda and vinegar, I want to manage my readers' expectations. I am a huge fan of white vinegar and baking soda. It works miracles on all sorts; limescale, blocked drains, mucky irons. And some blogs will tell you it is also a miraculous oven cleaner. This is not true. If you follow this cleaning tutorial it will not leave you with an oven which looks almost like new.

So why do I still use vinegar and baking soda on my oven? Well, call me paranoid but chemical oven cleaners are highly toxic and I'm just not comfortable cleaning something which cooks my food with substances that could kill me. That said, I have tried many chemical based oven cleaners and they all left my oven better but far from sparkling. My natural homemade cleaner works at least as well as them. Consequently, I've made my peace with the fact my oven will never be perfectly clean - short of wiping it down every time I use it or paying a professional I've accepted there is only so much I can do.

Now you know there are no short cuts to a shiny oven, here is how you can at least make a big improvement. This is what I had to work with.

It had been a while since I last cleaned it! 

I started by taking out the shelves and bunging them in the dishwasher. If you don't have a dishwasher, put them in the bath and cover them with hot water and plenty of dish soap and leave them for as long as possible. 

Next I made up a paste of white vinegar and baking soda. No need to measure quantities, just add enough baking soda so that the paste isn't too runny to stick to the sides of your oven. Spread it all over the door and the oven walls. Ideally this paste should be left on over night, but an hour is enough to make a difference if you're pressed for time. 

Once the dishwasher is finished, get out the shelves and scrub them with a scourer. It is a very tedious job, but most of the crusty bits should come off.

Turn your attention back to the oven. Wipe all of the vingear/baking soda paste off with a damp cloth. I'll be honest, it is a faff! But at least you should start to notice the difference. This is what I was left with when it was all done:

It is easy to get the glass door looking clean and sparkly again. The inside... not so much. The difference is much more noticeable in real life than it is in the photos. It is just too difficult to get decent pictures of an oven with my mediocre photography skills. 

If anyone does know the secret to creating a shiny oven with little to no effort then please do share in the comments!

Friday, 12 April 2013

More of the Best Movie Fonts

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Since I couldn't include all of the fonts I wanted in last week's movie fonts post, I'm sharing the final 13 today. It's a little bit of an eclectic mix of films! Linkies for downloading the free fonts here:

4) Alien
12) Ice Age

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Free Social Media Icons in 12 Colours

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*technically now 180 FREE Social Media Icons in 13 Colours

Freebies always go out on a Thursday on  A Typical English Home and originally I scheduled this for a Thursday too, (yes I schedule my posts, like, a month in advance when it's the school holidays). But at the last minute I had a change of heart and re-scheduled it to go out on the same day as my "How do I install buttons?" post. Early present!

What buttons are included?

Each set contains 13 different social media icons: email, Etsy, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest, RSS, Stumble Upon, Tumblr, Twitter and You Tube. There is also a blank button that you can tailor to your personal needs. That's 14 free buttons altogether! 

There are currently 12 13 different colours to choose from, so that you will almost certainly be able to find one that suits your blog. Or you can mix and match and have an array of rainbow buttons. I may - if there is a demand for it - expand on this collection at a later date. 

What size are the social media icons?

All icons are 70px by 70px. In my button tutorial I included the code to change the sizing, so refer to this if you need something a little smaller. 

Download your free social media buttons

Click on the text link to download the full set of social media buttons. The colour of the download icon illustrates the colour of the corresponding set. 


Requested social media icons in chocolate brown:

If there are any problems with the downloads please let me know so I can fix it!

How Do I Add Buttons to my Blog?

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I recently posted a little tutorial on how to install fonts because I get that question a lot, and it was taking a while to individually reply to people. And since that post was received so well I'm now going to tackle another common question; how do I add buttons to my blog? I'm taking the angle of adding social media buttons to a Blogger blog, but the HTML code can be used for any buttons or clickable images and on any type of website.

First Things First...

Before you start fiddling with HTML the first thing you need to do is find some great images to use as your buttons. You might want to make your own, but if you aren't great with graphic software there are plenty of free social media icons available for free (free social media icons here). 

These will then need to be uploaded to a graphic hosting service like Photobucket or Picasa. You will need to copy the direct link address for the image and paste it into your HTML. I use Picasa and the information you need is here:

Don't forget to check the "Image only" box and select the text under "Embed image" rather than "Link".

HTML Code for Buttons

The HTML code for creating a button (or hyperlinked image) is:

<a href="WebsiteAddressHere"><img src="ImageAddressHere" width="Width" height="Height"></a>

You will need to edit the following bits of code:

WebsiteAddressHere - this is the URL of the page you want the button to take your visitor to.

ImageAddressHere - this is the direct link for the image, which I mentioned above.

Width/Height - this is the width and height, in pixels, of your button. It is handy to include this information in the image tag to make it easy to resize your icons, but you can take it out if you are happy for the buttons to display in their original sizes. (N.B, I tend to make my buttons about 75 pixels wide).

Adding Social Media Icons to your Blogger Blog

It's great to add social media buttons to your sidebar to make it easy for people to follow you. To do this on Blogger you will need to go to your dashboard then select Layout/ Add Gadget/ HTML/Javascript.

Add in your HTML code. It might look something like this:

Which will produce social media buttons that look like this:

HTML isn't so scary, huh? But hang on a second, you might be about to hit a problem...

How to Add an Email Button to your Website

So you're feeling all cocky because you've discovered that it isn't so difficult to add a bit of custom code to your blog after all. But then you try to add an "email me" button and you suddenly realise you have no clue what to put where it says "WebsiteAddressHere". Well, the HTML code for adding an email button is:

<a href=""><img src="ImageAddressHere" width="Width" height="Height"></a>

Obviously, you need to replace my email address with your own. There are no spaces between "mailto:" and the email address.

I believe that covers everything you might need to know about buttons, and in particular adding social media icons to your website. But if anything isn't clear or you have further questions please leave me a comment below or drop me an email.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

How to Clean a Dyson

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You know those cleaning posts you see where the "before" pictures look like your "after", and then you feel like a complete slattern*? I think I can safely say that this post is not going to be one of them. Industry advice is that you clean your Dyson vacuum cleaner every 6 months (or at least wash the filter). I've had my Dyson cylinder cleaner for over 4 years and have cleaned it precisely twice. Both of those occasions were in the first year of ownership - I'm sure you can now do the math for how long it's been since my Dyson was cleaned. 

To be fair, my Dyson still works really well. This is despite my vacuum cleaner having to deal with a house that's gone through a kitchen renovation, two bathroom renovations, a chimney being knocked out and four rooms being plastered. That's a lot of dirt even before considering I have 2 mucky boys. But it was long over due a thorough clean.

The first thing I did was empty the clear bin, which was icky and had compacted grime at the bottom which I couldn't shake out. I then took the Dyson upstairs, dismantled it and dumped all the bits in the bath. Although the cyclone part (the bit that inserts into the middle of the bin) is shown in this picture you do not want to wash this out in the bath. It isn't meant to get wet and you could void your guarantee. After snapping a photo of the dismantled parts I took the cyclone part outside and blew it with an air compressor, which is the correct way to clean it. I didn't take the camera out with me, but it was amazing how much dust comes out.  

Next I tackled the clear bin, which is perfectly safe to wash out with soap and water. Because of the build up of dirt at the bottom I left it to soak a bit first to loosen it all,  before washing it down with a shower hose.

Once the bin was almost gleaming again I gave the vacuum attachments a good rinse too. Do not be tempted to clean out the hose - it will take days to dry out properly, and you risk making your vacuum cleaner smell bad (as nasties could grow in the damp environment) or even damage the machine. 

As I already mentioned, Dyson recommend washing the foam filter every 6 months (oops). Points for occasionally thinking about doing it?

The correct way to clean the filter is rinse it under the cold tap, squeezing all of the dirt out until the water runs clear. This will take a few minutes. Or 15 minutes if you've been as neglectful as me. Make sure it's the normal filter and not the HEPA lifetime filter you are washing - on my Dyson it is located at the top of the machine and the filter has a picture of a tap printed on it. I don't think rinsing the HEPA filter would do irreparable damage, but it is unnecessary as it is located on the outflow and should last a "lifetime" without getting particularly dirty. 

All that was left to do after this was give the outside of the vacuum cleaner a quick wipe with a clean, damp cloth. Most people can probably skip this step but with repeated exposure to building debris my Dyson was, erm, absolutely filthy a little grubby. 

Leave all of the parts to dry for at least 24 hours. I personally err on the side of caution and wait 48 hours. I don't need to tell you that sticking a damp appliance into the mains is not a good idea. 

 Anyone inspired to clean their vacuum cleaner? Can you beat 3 years when it comes to not cleaning your Dyson? 

*N.B I'm not sure if Americans are familiar with the term "slattern". So just in case, the definition is "a woman who is rather laid back when it comes to cleaning standards".