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To celebrate National Gardening Week 2018, we have put together a list of our favourite edible flowers which you can grow at home! (No, we’re not pollen your leg…) Because why buy expensive edible flowers for cake decorating or herbal teas when you can just grab them from your garden instead?

Number 10 – Chrysanthemum


the handy mano manomano edible flowers chrysanthemum

You can use the bright petals to flavour and cream soups, fish chowder and even egg dishes! You can also make your own chrysanthemum tea by drying out the leaves and placing them in tea strainer into hot water. The tea can provide many health benefits such as relieving stress and anxiety, migraine pains; digestion after a heavy meal, high blood pressure and can boost your metabolism. Pretty impressive for something which is just growing in the garden, isn’t it?

Number 9 – Hollyhock

the handy mano manomano hollyhock edible flower hollyhock

It is quite well known that these stunning petals are often dried out, crystallized then used to decorate cakes. But, similar to Chrysanthemums, they can also be used to sooth respiratory and urinary tracts in the body and also relieve dry coughs. However, Hollyhock is one of the few flowers that can be used fresh in salads, added to light baking and infused in syrups due to its mild floral taste.

Number 8 – Pot Marigold

the handy mano manomano hollyhock edible flower pot marigold

When first discovered, these plants were said to have relieved hiccups and the effects of being struck by lightening… Nowadays, Pot marigolds have a naturally intense colour and peppery taste making them great for soups, stews and puddings. You can also use the petals in vinegar or added to oil or butter – what could be butter? 

Number 7 – Rose


the handy mano manomano edible flowers rose petals

Coming from the strawberry and apple family, it is said that the more fragrant a rose then the nicer it is to eat! These petals can be crystallized, used to flavour drinks (eg rose lemonade) and even ice summer cakes. Other uses are to mix some dry petals in butter to make it more fragrant for baking, leave it amongst sugar to change the flavour of your tea, and to alter the taste of vinegar when used in salads. Are you able to rose up to the challenge?

Number 6 – Hibiscus

the handy mano manomano edible flowers hibiscus

Hibiscus is known for its distinctive flavour and deep colours, although, many don’t realise that it has powerful antioxidant levels which are even higher than those in green tea! The most surprising common use for it is in tacos – yes, tacos – as it is commonly used as a meat substitute and mixed with roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed vegetables before being wrapped in a tortilla leaf. For the meat lovers, you can throw some hibiscus tea into a marinade to tenderise beef or lamb whilst adding a lot of lfavour and colours due to its tannins (which are the same as the ones in red wine).

Number 5 – Sweet Violet

thehandymano mano mano edible flowers sweet violet

These delicate flowers are bursting with colour making them perfect to decorate soufflés or to garnish cakes with. They have been found to be slightly laxative and are also a gentle expectorant but have many uses such as used fresh in salads, used to colour and flavour vinegar, made into a delicate jelly, mixed into porridge, and even fermented into a sweet wine! It’s clear that these bright beauties have more to them than meets the eye, and can alter your cooking experience for the better!

Number 4 – Tiger Lily

 

the handy mano manomano tiger lily edible flowers

It is important to note that despite the Tiger Lily being fit for human consumption, parts can be toxic to cats so make sure that you keep your feline friends far from your culinary creations! In Asia, the plant is grown for its edible bulb, which when cooked, resembles a turnip flavour! You can also boil, pickle or use the bulbs to make starch/ The flowers, on the other hand, can be used fresh and dried in soups, salads, omelets and rice dishes. Make sure to do some research about what type of Tiger Lily plant you have though, as some can be unsettling for the stomach!

Number 3 – Bergamot

the handy mano manomano edible flowers bergamot

These funky flowers are members of the mint family and have a surprisingly strong spicy scent which makes them perfect for tea but they also compliment savoury food such as bacon, poultry, rice and pasta. The strong flavour also makes it a perfect addition to a cocktail or in a sweet dish (such as cookies or muffins) alongside rosemary. If you have any left over, you can always throw them into a potpourris to add colour and spread its scent!

Number 2 – Sunflower

the handy mano manomano edible flowers sunflower

Known for its majestic petals and use in cooking oils, the sunflower has many more uses in the kitchen. Pull the seedlings from your sunflower patch while they are around 6 inches tall. You can eat the sunflower sprouts straight from the ground, on top of salads, or in a stir fry, meaning that you get to enjoy a meal whilst cutting down on plant waste! You can also eat the leaves of older plants alone or in in a salad, meaning that not a single part of this flower goes to waste. You can also, of course, place the flower heads in a dry and well ventilated place and allow the seeds to mature before eating them too. This plant can basically give you a three course meal if you want it to!

Number 1 – Nasturtium

the handy mano manomano edible flowers nasturtium

We chose this brightly-coloured, peppery flower as our favourite because you can use the whole flower in salad and pasta dishes, as well as on egg and toast as pictured above! Both the leaves and the petals of this flower are packed with nutrition and contain high levels of vitamin C meaning that it can help improve the immune systel, tackle sore throats and fight bacterial and fungal infections, whilst having lots of flavour packed in too! Why not make it the star of your meal tonight?

Still got green fingers? Dig into our other garden articles…

Hacks to Help You Prepare for Your Spring Garden

Garden Design – Spring Garden Planter Ideas

 

Looking for the lazy person’s plant pot? This DIY indoor planter is pretty simple to make – no fancy compartments or initial build time, just finish a bottle of wine and you can get started. The self-watering pat works by creating a reservoir at the bottom, and connecting it to the soil via a piece of string. This way, self watering planters can pull up the water they need.

To make your own DIY indoor planter you will need:

Wine bottle
Buckets
Bottle cutter or homemade jig
WD 40 (optional, oil will work too)
Glasspaper or Sandpaper
Twine
Plant
Soil
Drill
Safety glasses

Cost, time and difficulty

This project is pretty simple, and you can substitute the parts including power tools if you wanted to make it even easier. As is, we’d say it takes around half a day, costs around £20 (cheaper if you opt to make the jig yourself) and can be attacked by beginners.

diy indoor planter plant planters self-watering wine bottle easy the handy mano manomano

Step by step instructions for your DIY Indoor Planter:

1. Prepare your wine bottle

Firstly, prepare your bottle and remove the label. We found the best way to do this was some combination of steam, hot water, WD40 and tears. It can be a little frustrating – depending on the type of bottle and sticker. We found cheaper bottles had the easiest to remove stickers, and the more expensive ones were a pain.

WD40 is great for wiping off the residue, and it’s a good idea to make sure this is completely gone. Any dirt or left-over stickiness could stop the blade from running in a straight line. 

2.  Score the line

Grab your bottle cutter, or try your hand at making a homemade jig (we have a step by step for this in our article about a recycled wine bottle lamp). Firstly, mark where you want to score your line on the bottle. We chose about two thirds of the way up – measuring first to see exactly where the neck of the bottle would go down to when the bottle was inverted. You’ll need to also make sure the top is roomy enough for your plant. 

diy indoor planter plant planters self-watering wine bottle easy bottle cutter

Score along this line with your bottle cutter. Note – here you want just to score – you’re not actually cutting your bottle. Resist the urge to press to hard (it’s very difficult, but it might displace the line of the blade). Mark it reasonably lightly, all the way round. You should meet your starting point, having gone in a complete circle.

3. Break the bottle

To break the bottle, submerge it first in boiling, then in freezing water. The more extreme the temperatures, the faster it will break. We tried first to use boiling water and cold water and it took a long time… we wouldn’t recommend it. Use freshly boiled water (you could even keep the pan on the hob – although don’t inset the wine bottle while it’s actually lit) and very icy water. 

diy indoor planter the handy mano mano mano

Sand down your edges using sandpaper or glasspaper. We recommend using safety goggles for this whole process – you can’t really be too careful around glass.

4. Insert the stopper

Take your cork and cut it (this will make it a little easier to fit back in). We cut it lengthways to about half the size, and then drilled a hole through the middle. You can definitely use a hand tool for this, as cork is very soft. 

diy indoor planter thehandymano mano mano

diy indoor planter thehandymano mano mano

Once you have a hole in the middle, thread your string through this. Take your cork, and insert it into the neck of the bottle. You may have to do some (careful) hammering to get it in exactly the right place.

(Alternative easy way out)

If you don’t fancy messing about with the cork or gravel (in the next step), you could also insert some wire netting or a coffee filter just before putting the soil in. This will stop your plant from falling down the neck of the bottle, while also allowing the string to reach the plant.

4. Plant

To assemble, put the top part of your bottle inside the the bottom. Add some smaller rocks or gravel into the neck, and fill the reservoir with water. The string should go from the soil to the water, so do some manoeuvring when potting your plant. 

diy indoor planterr plant planters self-watering wine bottle easy bottle cutter soil

diy indoor planter plant planters self-watering wine bottle easy bottle cutter string

We hope this gives you a use for your recycled wine bottles, and perhaps help prevent a few plant’s death. As ever – if you do make this, or if you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch via our Contact page or our Facebook. Enjoy your new DIY indoor planter! We’re working on a few other planter ideas for you, but, in the meantime why not try these?

How to Build a Pallet Wine Rack

DIY Cat Scratcher

 

It’s Mother’s Day on the 11th of March, and what better present is there than to make something for the woman who made you. We’ve put together Mother’s Day gift ideas, all doable before this Sunday. There are a range of levels of difficulty and length of project – so no excuses!

1. Macrame Plant Holder

To make this, all you’ll need is rope and your potted plant. Split the rope into pairs and tie it in sections to create the structure for your macrame holder (you can tie it around the pot to make your life a little easier).

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano macrame plant pot

2. Reclaimed Wood Photo Display

This little photo holder will be a great addition to any house. It’s great as it can be customised with the types of photos or prints your mum likes, whether these are photos of the family or quirky postcards. It’s a pretty simple make – just get hold of some planks of wood (you could even use pallets, we have a guide on how to find free or used pallets here). Attach binder clips to your wood, either using nails or hot glue. Fix hooks to the back of the wood, and hammer in corresponding nails to the wall. Now, just select your photos!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano macrame wooden photo holder

3. Modern Candle Holder

If your mum is a fan of modern and unusual designs, this will go down a treat. You could even use scented candles to take it to the next level. Start with a cardboard or plastic mold (something like a yoghurt box would work well). Wipe your mold with oil will help with the removal process later.

You can usually find metal circles of wire at the craft shop that would work really well for this. Mix your cement, and pour into the mold, adding your wire part way. Once you’ve added the desired amount, push your candle into the concrete. Wait for it to cure for 24 – 72 hours before removing the mold.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano candle holder cement modern

4. Upcycled Vase

This one is a great way to give a nice present on a budget. If you have any glass containers lying around, such as wine glasses or mason jars, take these and clean them (after making sure they’re not being used for something already!) Put masking tape or painter’s tape around your container in the pattern that you want. Now just to paint – you can use any type of paint but we think spray paint will give the cleanest finish. <if you do opt for spray paint, be sure to fully cover any areas you want to remain clear.Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano modern upcycle plant holder wine bottle mason jar

 

5. Quirky Key Organiser

This is not only has a fun and interesting design, but is also highly functional. If you’re sick of your mum telling you off for leaving things lying around on the landing, this may be the first step forward. To make this, you’ll want to take a thick dowel, and saw lines part way through it, spaced out evenly. Next, get hold of some wooden spheres (these can usually be found at the craft shop). Take some pieces of twine or leather, and attach this to your sphere. You can do this by either using a strong adhesive, or by drilling a hole in your sphere and threading your twine through. Now all that’s left is to thread it through the keyring, and tie it tightly to form a loop.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano key organiser tidy modern

6. Hanging Side Table

We actually have a whole article for making a hanging side table. It’s very simple to customise and easier than you think to make – we promise!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano hanging side table raw wood modern

7. Wooden Plant Holders

If your mum is a plant lover, this could be the perfect present for her. These holders can be made pretty simply, using thin wooden sticks, and either a hammer and nails, or strong wood glue. Make sure your pieces are of even size, and screw them into the wall when finished.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano off thewall hanging plants

8. Concrete Bookends

A simple triangular mold can be made from thick cardboard (cut using a blade for precision) and lots of tape (the more the better – you don’t want any concrete leaks!) Pour in your concrete, tap it against the floor to remove any air bubbles, and remove the mold after 24 – 72 hours.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano macrame cement book ends

9. Gilded Golden Mirror

For this DIY, you can either buy a new mirror, find a second hand one in a charity shop, or breathe new life into an old mirror your mum may have resigned to a dusty corner of the house. You’ll need to get your hands on painter’s tape and paint (preferably one designed for glass or metals). Lay the painter’s tape in the design you want, and paint on your paint, applying more than one coat if necessary. Remove the painter’s tape when the paint has almost, but not quite fully, dried.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano mirror gold gilded

10. Bath Tray from Pallet Boards

Check out how to make this DIY Bath Tray here!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Homemade Gifts presents mothering sunday the handy mano manomano bath tray pallet pallets

We hope these Mother’s Day gift ideas helped to inspire you. Mums are pretty great for loving whatever you get them, and we’re sure if you try to make something, they’ll appreciate the time and effort gone into it (and love it even if it turned out… differently than planned). If you make any of these projects, we’d love to see! Feel free to send us mail via our Contact page.

Have you got a forgotten piece of furniture lying around in the garage that you don’t know what to do with? Or maybe you’re one of those people who can’t help but keep an eye out for treasures in rubbish skips? Whatever the case, don’t miss out on this step by step guide for upcycling an old piece of furniture into a DIY play kitchen. The results are surprising!

To give a second life to an old piece of furniture all that’s required is a bit of DIY knowledge or some skills as a handyman (or woman). No matter how beat up it looks, it is possible to totally transform your item and give it a second chance. If you need convincing, just see for yourself how this old unit has been converted into a play kitchen for the kids.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano before junkyard old furniture cabinet

Tools and materials

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano tools materials

To turn an old unit into a play kitchen you will need the following tools and materials:

Cost, time and difficulty

If you already have the tools required, the approximate price of the materials is less than £60. In this sample shopping basket you can purchase some of the necessary tools and materials.

This project will take at least a day to complete, given that the work is fairly detailed. For this reason, due to its medium level of difficulty, this project is recommended for DIYers who already have some experience of carrying out similar projects.

Step by step play kitchen for kids

To make this play kitchen we have upcycled an old unit. Thus the measurements and materials noted are based on the specific piece of furniture used. To make a similar one for yourself, just follow the steps below:

Step 1- Check the state of your unit

When you want to upcycle an old piece of furniture, first you need to check the overall state of the item, as well as repairing and replacing any damaged parts.

In our specific case we made the following repairs:

  • Removed the legs to make the unit shorter and more suitable for children.
  • Took off the back and other damaged parts such as the hinges, which were rusty.
  • Replaced missing parts such as the knobs.
  • Deep cleaning with alcohol to remove dust, dirt, glue stains etc.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano before old furniture

Step 2- Sand the surface

Next, sand the entire surface of the unit with a handheld sander. In areas with beading or difficult-to-reach corners, use the sanding accessory on a multi-tool.

By sanding you even out the surface as well as improve the paint’s adhesion to the unit.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano old furniture sanding upcycle

Step 3- Prime and paint

The next step involves applying primer and then painting the unit. If your item of furniture has beading or moulded parts, it will probably be quicker to use spray paint for this.

After applying a coat of primer and waiting for it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can paint the piece. We have chosen a light blue colour for the base and white for the counter top. We have also painted the surface of the backplate with blackboard paint.

When the paint has dried, attach the backplates to the unit, one after the other, using the staple gun.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano spray paint

Step 4- Make the counter top for the kitchen

To transform the top of the unit into a kitchen counter, just follow the steps below:

  1. Outline the section to be cut out to hold the metal tray, which will serve as the sink.
  2. Cut out the hole using the saw accessory on your multi-tool.
  3. Make a hole for the tap using the drill.
  4. Create the oven top using a sheet of MDF measuring 270 x 270 x 3mm. Paint it black then stick on hobs cut from adhesive red vinyl.
  5. Give the counter a granite look by stippling black and grey paint.
  6. Attach the sink, hob and a plank measuring 900 x 470 x 9mm as skirting, using the adhesive mounting tape.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano

Step 5- Make the oven door

To make the oven door we have used a methacrylate sheet and some planks of wood. First, cut the methacrylate sheet to your door size (35 x 24cm).

Next, cut two planks to 36cm long and two more to 11.5cm. Paint these black and attach to the methacrylate sheet with adhesive mounting tape.

Lastly, attach the handle and a couple of hinges to join the door to the unit. You will also need to attach 3 knobs to the top drawer to act as the oven controls.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano

Step 6- Attach the door below the sink

The final step is to attach the door below the sink. To do this, we replaced the original hinges as they were rusty. The new hinges are a bit bigger, meaning we had to make a bigger notch for them using the multi-tool. Once these adjustments are done, screw the hinges to the door and the unit.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano

Once you’ve completed all of these steps, this is what the upcycled unit looks like. Isn’t it amazing?

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano

This play kitchen is perfect down to the details, and the young ones of the house will spend many a long hour enjoying themselves, inventing recipes or doodling on the blackboard.

diy play kitchen kids playroom upcycle do it youself handy mano manomano

What do you think about the transformation of this old piece of junk into a DIY play kitchen? We’d love to encourage you to give a second life to an old piece of furniture using DIY – here’s a link for more inspiration, featuring 11 ways to upcycle your old bits of furniture.

DIY Kids Play Furniture – Miniature Work Bench

Does your cat need a new scratching post or bed? If so, they’ll love this DIY cat bed with integrated scratching post and a small play area. It’s win-win for the two of you: you use less space, and the cat will enjoy hours of endless fun and relaxation!

Cats are well known for always managing to find the comfiest spot in the house. In fact, they usually sleep right on our favourite armchair. If you want to avoid this, the best thing to do is create a dedicated space for your cat, where it can relax, play, sharpen its claws and sleep. To make this for yourself, just follow our step by step tutorial.

Tools and materials

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano tools wood rope saw

To do this DIY project you’ll need the following tools:

In addition, these materials will be needed:

Cost, time and difficulty

If you already have the right tools, the approximate price of the materials is less than £60. As a guideline,  this link will show you a suggested shopping basket with some of the tools and materials required.

This is a medium-difficulty DIY project and is perfect for handy men or women who have some experience when it comes to DIY in general. It should take you around a day to complete, between cutting, assembly, and painting the different pieces that make up the bed/scratching post.

Measurements and plan

This cat bed with scratching post is made from independent stacking sections. Each section is a level or floor. In the following photo you can see the measurements for each unit as used in our DIY project.

Step by step cat bed with Scratcher

As noted in the previous point, this bed is made up of 3 sections of the same size, stacked one on top of the other from the ground up. Each unit measures 51cm in length, 32cm wide and 28cm high. However, each one has its own distinguishing features:

  • base section or ground floor. This has corners cut to a 45 degree angle. One end is also partly open to allow the cat to look out, and to use as a play area.
  • Scratcher or first floor. One of its sides has been wrapped in sisal rope to allow the cat to sharpen its claws.
  • Top section or second floor. This section is accessed from the underside and has been designed with a cut-out cat face.

To assemble the various sections, follow these steps:

Step 1: Cut the parts

Use the telescopic mitre saw to cut each of the boards, following the measurements indicated in the table above. In the case of the pieces for the base unit, please remember the following:

  • Both sides have one corner cut to an angle of 45 degrees, with the remaining three cut to 90 degrees.
  • The 28cm sides of the back piece are to be bevel cut with a 30° slant.

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano circular saw cutting wood

Step 2: Cut out the cat face

On one of the sides measuring 49 × 28cm, cut out the cat face. To do this, draw the outline of the cat face with a pencil and drill a hole in it. Next, insert the jigsaw and cut out the shape. Last, use a rotating tool to sand the inner edges and smooth the borders.

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano sketching cutting cat face shape

Step 3: Assemble the pieces for each section

In the next step, you will assemble the different parts of each section. To do this, follow the diagram below:

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano plan

  • Base: Position the two walls with the cut-away corner facing downwards. Screw the upper part to the roof and the lower part to the floor. Attach the sloping end, leaving the top half open.
  • Scratching post: screw the sides measuring 49 x 28cm and 30 x 28cm to the base and roof. Attach a wall at each end of this section.
  • Cut out: screw the walls to the roof and base measuring 30 x 28cm. Attach the end.

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano assembly

Step 4: Paint the sections

Next, you will paint each section. We have used an acrylic enamel paint for the outside and left the interiors bare.

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano painting

Step 5: Attach the rope and toys

The final step is to wrap the sisal rope around the narrowest wall of the second unit. To do this, staple the end of the rope to the inside of the unit. Next, wind the rope around the wall until it is completely wrapped.

Also, at the end opening of the base section, attach some hooks to hang toys.

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano

Lastly, all that’s left to do is stack the units one on top or another. Although they will stay in place by themselves, if you want more stability, screw them together from the inside.

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano

The final say goes to the stars of this DIY project: our feline friends. It looks like the new bed/ scratching post is a hit, does it not?

DIY Cat Bed with Scratching Post three story play area manomano mano the handy mano

Are you keen to make a bed for your pets? Let your cats enjoy a space created especially for them. If you also get the use of your favourite armchair back, then all the effort will have been well worth it!

DIY Chair – Design Your Workspace Series

Wooden Bath Tray – DIY Pallet Project