Thursday, 30 January 2014

Free Valentine's Digital Washi Tape

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I think that Thursday is my favorite day of the week on the blog, because I love being able to share freebies with my readers! This week I am sticking with the Valentine's theme and sharing some free love-themed digital washi tape.

There are 14 different designs in the pack...

(shown actual size)

Each file is 400 pixels by 100 pixels, but I am happy for people to resize the images to suit their needs. The tape is saved in .png format so that the images retain the transparent background and reduced opacity, (they are slightly see through when you layer them over another image).

If you want to get this week's freebie, hit the link below the download button:

To find out more about using washi tape for your blog pictures, check out this tutorial.

You can also use the files for things like digital scrapbooking. :-)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Free Valentine's Party Printables

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I love these Valentine's party printables because I rarely get to create anything pretty and pink! Valentine's day is probably the one time of year I can indulge in a bit of girly party decor without my boys turning their noses up at it. ;-)

I've included quite a bit in this party pack, so do give it a few seconds to download. Even in a compressed zip file, it still comes to about 15MB. This is what you will find in it...

Party Circles

Use a 2 inch circle punch to cut out the circles, or carefully cut them out by hand using scissors. To use them as cake toppers, attach the circle to a lollipop stick or a toothpick using tape or hot glue.

Popular uses: Cake toppers, party hat embellishments, sealing party bags.

Food Labels

These blank tented signs can be cut out, folded in half and used as labels.

Popular uses: Food labels, table signs, place cards.


Cut out the flags with scissors, then snip them to your desired length. Use hot glue to secure them around a toothpick or straw.

Popular uses: Cake toppers, food flags, straw embellishments.

Gift Tags

Carefully cut out the tags and punch a hole in the top, then hang them with ribbon or twine.

Heart Bunting

These hearts can be strung together as a banner, or used to embellish your party decorations.

Coordinated Paper  

This coordinated paper has so many uses. Print it out on good quality white paper or card.

Popular uses: Wrapping small gifts, decorating food containers, paper chains, pennant flags, punching out confetti.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

How To Clean A Leather Couch

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I love my leather couch, but it can get mucky quite quickly. My kids friends tend to drop stuff on it, and since it is near our back door the dog splatters it with mud when she runs in from the garden. So knowing how to properly clean a leather couch is an absolute must in our household.

Now, I'm sure I'm not the only person who has occasionally resorted to baby wipes to clean their leather furniture. However, you are not meant to do that because leather is very porous and the chemicals in the wipes can penetrate the leather and ruin the finish. The following method, on the other hand, should be safe for the majority of couches. But I recommend doing a spot test, because how safe and effective a cleaning method is will depend on the exact quality and finish of the leather.

How To Clean A Leather Couch

You should aim to clean your leather couch at least every three months. But don't make it part of your weekly cleaning routine - excessive cleaning has the potential to wreck the finish of the leather.

Step one. Before you clean your couch, you want to remove as much of the dirt as possible from all of the nooks and crannies with the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. This is because you will rub the grime into the leather if you don't make the effort to remove it first.

Step two. You can buy commercial leather cleaners for furniture, but they can be expensive - it is far cheaper to make your own! I mix one part distilled white vinegar to one part water to clean leather, but don't forget to do the aforementioned spot test if this is the first time you are applying it to your couch.

Step three. Dip a clean cloth (preferably microfiber) into your cleaning solution, and wring it out so it isn't too wet. Wipe the entire surface of the couch, rinsing out the cloth as necessary. I like to start at the back of the couch and work my way down, but that is just a matter of personal preference.

Step four. Once you are finished, rub the couch over gently with a dry microfiber cloth.

Step five. An optional last step is to condition the leather - this should help to keep the leather supple, thereby improving its longevity. You can make your own leather cleaner by mixing one part white vinegar to two parts flax seed oil. Apply it in circular motions, and leave to dry for at least two hours before buffing the sofa with a clean cloth to restore its natural shine.

How To Remove Stains From A Leather Couch

I have never had any serious stains on my leather couch *touch wood*, but here is how to remove some of the most common stains. Again, always test it out on a small area first!

Permanent Marker

Spray the affected area with hairspray, then rub gently with a clean cloth.

Ballpoint Pen

Ink stains can normally be removed with rubbing alcohol, but you may also want to try eucalyptus oil for ballpoint pen. Apply the oil or rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab and rub the stain with small, circular motions.

Grease Stains

If you have dropped greasy food on your couch, sprinkle a little baking soda on the affected area to soak up the grease. Leave this for a couple of hours, brush it off and clean in the usual way.

Dark Colored Stains (Light Couch)

Create a paste from cream of tarter and lemon juice, and apply to the stain. Leave for ten minutes, then remove with a clean damp cloth. Repeat if necessary.


Mix one part rubbing alcohol to one part water, and apply it to the affected area with a cloth. Leave to dry naturally.

Always contact the manufacturer or a professional cleaner for advice if you are having trouble removing stubborn stains.

How do you clean your leather couch?

Monday, 20 January 2014

How To Create A Chalkboard Printable

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Although I haven't specifically been asked how to create a chalkboard printable, I do get asked about some of the topics relating to it (such as where to get a chalkboard background , which fonts to use or how to make a printable). So I decided it would be a good idea to amalgamate those questions into one handy tutorial. Especially since chalkboard printables are awesome, and very "in" for creating art and graphics right now.

Free Chalkboard Background

The first thing you need if you are going to make a chalkboard printable is a chalkboard background (yeah, I know - obvious). Now, I could get really complicated here and tell you how to make it in Photoshop. But since not everyone can justify the cost of buying Photoshop, I'm going to keep things super simple and provide you with a free chalkboard background which you can download instead.

I have made the background A4 size, since the focus of this post is how to make a pretty printable with it.

Best Chalkboard Fonts

Next, you need some cool fonts which look authentically chalky. Being self proclaimed Queen of the Fonts, I have already written a post about the best chalkboard fonts. But here are my current favorites:

Borders And Banners

If you are going to be using an online editor like PicMonkey (which I will get onto in a minute), then you will find some free banners and borders available on the site. But if you are going to be using your own image editor, then you might want to download some to use on your printable. The following examples are actually fonts.

Create A Chalkboard Printable In PicMonkey

PicMonkey is my favorite free graphics tool. You can use many of the fonts and images without subscription, but if you do upgrade to their Royale package then you will have even more opportunity to create some great art.

Step one. Open my free chalkboard background in edit mode. Check out the 'Overlays' tab on the menu, and look through the corners, borders and other clipart until you feel inspired. For chalkboard art, I like to set the text colour to #FFFFFF (white) and slide the fade bar along to about 10%. This reduces the opacity, so that a bit of the background shows through the image.

Step two. Add some text. If you are feeling uninspired, you can browse through a website like Brainy Quote to find something which appeals to you. As with the overlays, I change the colour to white and then reduce the opacity.

Step three. Save your masterpiece to your computer.

Step four. That was easy! All that is left to do now is print out (and frame) your new work of art.

How To Create A Create A Chalkboard Printable In Photoshop

The main advantage of Photoshop is that you can save your image as a PDF once you're done, which makes it super simple if you want to share it with your readers. Otherwise, it isn't much different to creating an image with PicMonkey.

Step one. Add your frames, border or other pretty embellishments. There are some suitable shapes included with the software, but personally I prefer to use the ornament themed fonts which I linked to earlier in the post.

Step two. Set the color to white and reduce the opacity for a more authentic chalkboard look. To do the latter, right click on the relevant layer in the right hand menu. Choose "Blending Options", then slide the opacity bar until you are happy with the level of transparency.

Step three. Add the text. If you aren't sure how to install extra fonts on your computer, check out my tutorial. Repeat step two for the text you have added.

Step four. Save your file. If you want to share your creations with your blog readers, or you just want a more convenient format to print from, you can save the image as a PDF. If your file is still in PSD format then you will need to save it as a JPG first, before you can convert it into a PDF.

The resulting PDF file can be huge, so you may want to click on the 'compression' tab and reduce the image quality, especially if you are going to be uploading your printable for other people's use. The reduction in image quality is barely conceivable, but it makes a big difference to the file size.

Step five. Print your new artwork and frame it.

If you create your own chalkboard printable from my chalkboard background/tutorial and share it with your blog readers, a link back to this post will bring you good karma. But I'm not going to lose sleep if you use my chalkboard image without credit, it's just greatly appreciated. :-)

Don't forget to check the terms of use on any fonts that you use for your printable.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Free Valentine's Fonts

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I think Valentine's Day is my favorite time of year for gorgeous fonts! As much as I love all the pretty Valentine's fonts I shared last year, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to download a few more. :-)

All of these fonts can be downloaded for free, but many require a small donation if you want them for commercial purposes. The terms and conditions for use can be found on the download pages.

Here are the links:

Kiss Me
Love Letters 
Be Mine
{Heart Dingbats}
True Love
February Fourteenth
I Love You
{Heart Dingbat}
Hugs & Kisses
And they lived happily ever after...

Monday, 13 January 2014

How To Clean Between Oven Glass

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Just before Christmas I gave my oven a really good scrub using my vinegar and baking soda method. But there was one bit  that was still filthy, and it frankly was bothering me a bit; the glass door on the oven. How does the grease end up between the two panes anyway?

There are some models of oven where you can pop out the glass and give it a proper clean. However, this can be tricky and there could be warranty implications if you can't get your door back together. Also, there are some doors - like mine - where it isn't possible to take the door apart. But I have got the solution.

With the gloomy weather and my dark kitchen I haven't been able to get many decent pictures of the process, but I will describe the method as best I can.

Cleaning Between The Glass On An Oven Door

You will need two things to clean the oven door; some cleaning solution and a cleaning implement. There are a number of options for both.

To clean the glass, you will need to use a product which cuts through grease and gives a streak free finish. Some cleaning solutions to try are:

* Windex, or similar cleaning product for windows.
* Kitchen cleaning product for glass hobs.
* Homemade kitchen cleaner, made with white vinegar and dish soap.

I went for the DIY solution, as vinegar is an effective cleaner and washing up liquid (dish soap) is specially formulated to cut through grease. I mixed up half a cup of warm water with an equal part of white vinegar, then added a couple of drops of Fairy liquid (the American equivalent is Dawn).

Next, you will need to devise an implement for scrubbing the glass. First of all, you will need to find something which will create a long handle. You can use:

* A wire coat hanger (straightened out).
* A bottle brush.
* Dryer vent brush.

I used the first one, as I have an abundance of wire coat hangers thanks to husband's forgetfulness when it comes to returning them to the dry cleaner. You will need to secure something to the end of your cleaning implement, such as a cloth. Ideas are:

* An old sock.
* A small rag.
* A cleaning wipe.

I used an elastic band to secure a rag to the coat hanger - it is very important that the rag cannot come off easily. You don't want to lose it between the panes of glass!

Once you have created your special cleaning device, you will need to do the following.

Step one. Look for vents (gaps) on your oven door. My door has vents on both the top and bottom, but many ovens will have them only on the bottom.

Step two. Figure out how you can poke your cleaning device into the gaps. If you have a freestanding oven with a drawer underneath, you can take out the drawer and lay on the floor to access the gaps. Alternatively, you could look in your oven's manual and see if the door can be lifted off its hinges. If there is no easy way to get to the gaps, then a wire coat hanger will be your best cleaning implement because you can contort it to get into awkward spaces.

Still with me?

Step three. Soak your cleaning rag with your cleaning product of choice. Not too much - you need enough to clean the grease, but too much excess will lead to streaks. If the door is very bad, you may want to use a product to tackle the grease first, then following it up with a dedicated glass cleaner.

Step four. Insert the cleaning implement into the slats on the oven door, and clean the glass with a gentle side to side motion. I am not going to lie, this can take time and patience if you want to achieve a great finish. Years of dust and grease will not come off in a matter of minutes.

Step five. Carefully remove your cleaning implement. Repeat the process if you can still see some remaining dirt and streaks. Admire your shiny oven glass, then pop the door back on its hinges if applicable.

Let me know if any part of the instructions aren't clear enough. :-)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Free Tooth Fairy Receipt Template (Editable)

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This tooth fairy receipt printable is a prime of example of a post idea which takes several months to become a reality. I actually think it was an idea I jotted down not long after starting this blog! Hopefully it was worth the wait.

When my eldest son lost his first tooth I found him asleep with a lightsaber under his pillow, which he had put there in case he needed to defend himself against the tooth fairy. Generally though, I think most children are excited about being visited by a fairy, and this printable will make checking under the pillow in the morning even more exciting!

How To Edit Your Tooth Fairy Receipt

The date, number of teeth, child's name and the amount of money exchanged for the tooth can all be edited.

To add your child's details, open the PDF in a program such as Adobe Reader. The editable fields will all display as blue, and you can type within the box. These blue boxes do not actually show when you print out the finished tooth fairy receipt.

Most PDF readers do not allow you to save the edited file, but you can keep a copy of the blank PDF for future use.

I hope that the tooth fairy receipt brings a smile to your child's face!

Monday, 6 January 2014

How To Remove Mildew Smell From Shoes

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Happy new year. I am really happy to be back to blogging. :-)

I have quite a few cleaning posts on my "to blog" list, and am kicking off with a bit of an odd one; how to remove the mildew smell from shoes. I say "odd" because I am not sure how common a problem it is (or if anyone will actually read this post). But the tips in this post are some that I have found very useful, so if I only help a few people then I will consider it worth the time and effort of sharing.

How To Get Rid Of Mildew Smells In Leather Shoes Or Sneakers

A couple of years ago, I went to Disneyland Paris and it rained non-stop for seven days even though it was July. Despite attempting to dry off the shoes every evening with a hairdryer, the shoes remained saturated with water and by the end of the holiday were stinky and ruined. (Still a great holiday though, if you're wondering).

Fast forward to this winter, and a similar problem occurred with a pair of my husband's trainers (that's "sneakers", if you're American). This time I was determined not to toss the shoes, and instead find a remedy for getting the mildew smell out of leather shoes. Below is the method which worked for me.

1) Dry out the shoes as thoroughly as you can. The mildew smell comes from nasty things multiplying in damp, enclosed conditions.

2) Put the shoes in a couple of plastic bags, preferably something like a ziploc bag. Put this in the freezer. Yes, I know it sounds insane - I was skeptical too - but the cold conditions will kill the bacteria, or at least make it go dormant. Also, there is no risk associated with putting well wrapped shoes in with your food, but I have to admit that I had a bit of psychological resistance to the idea and was relieved to have an outside freezer that we don't really use!

3) Leave the shoes in the freezer for at least 24 hours, then remove and thaw naturally. It is a good idea to spray the inside of the shoes with a proper shoe spray afterwards, in order to kill any nasties which are simply lying dormant after being frozen.

4) Just putting the shoes in the freezer worked for me, but if there is still a hint of a smell then try this additional step. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda inside the shoe (be careful if the shoes are made from suede). Leave this overnight, then empty out the baking soda by  giving the sole of the shoes a good tap.

Please note, the freezer method is best used for reviving smelly shoes when the cause is the shoes getting wet. If your problem is stinky sneakers after a workout then you need a more long term method for dealing with odor.

Okay, so "put your shoes in the freezer" is one post I never thought I'd write. Anyone else got any bizarre shoe care tips?