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If you’ve ever wanted a neon light but can’t justify the cost, this project is for you! Thanks to the invention of electroluminescent wire, it’s now possible to DIY a neon-effect light in any shape you like. Seeing as Christmas is approaching, we decided to create a white neon snowflake, with a sprinkling of glitter for added sparkle. Read on to find out just how easy it is to create a neon light of your own.

What you’ll need

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

Jig saw

Palm sander

Drill with drill bits

In addition, these materials will be needed:

1 small piece of MDF

Block of wood

Assorted sandpaper to fit your palm sander

Ready-mixed fine surface filler

Quick-dry primer and undercoat paint in white

Rust-Oleum Sparkling Glitter spray paint

EL Wire in white with battery pack

Hanging hook

Cost, time and difficulty

The approximate cost of materials for this project is £25. You can access the shopping cart of some of the tools and materials used through this link. Depending on your DIY skills, this project shouldn’t take longer 2 hours to complete, excluding drying time.

Step 1

Print out a snowflake shape to the size you want your finished neon light to be. Use this as a template to trace a slightly larger shape onto the MDF board. Use a jigsaw to cut out this shape.

Step 2

Cover the edges of the snowflake with quick drying surface filler. This will prevent the edges of the MDF board from absorbing the paint too much. Allow to dry thoroughly before using a palm sander with sandpaper to smooth any rough edges.

Step 3

Mark out where the EL wire will be positioned on the snowflake shape. Mark a cross at the points where the EL wire will need to be pushed through to the back of the shape. Use a drill bit with a slightly larger circumference than the EL wire and make holes at these points. Add one larger hole in the centre to fit multiple pieces of EL wire through.

Step 4

Paint the whole snowflake shape with a primer and undercoat paint in white. You may need two coats, so allow to dry between layers. Once the final coat is dry, for extra glitz you can use a glitter spray paint to cover the whole shape in glitter. This also provides a protective clear top coat to seal the paint.

Step 5

Cut a block of wood the same depth as the battery pack and screw this into the back of the snowflake in the centre. Add a hanging hook to the block. Tape the battery pack to the back of the snowflake beneath the block.

Step 6

Feed the EL wire through the central hole from the back and weave it into the hole at one of the tips of the snowflake. Feed it through the ‘branches’ of the snowflake on either side of the line. On the reverse, take the wire back to the centre and repeat until all the arms of the snowflake have an EL wire design. Tape any remaining EL wire to the back of the snowflake.

 

And there you have it, a DIY neon-style light! Turn on the EL wire and proudly position your snowflake decoration on a sideboard or hang it on a wall to add an eye-catching feature to your festive decor. If you want to create a different design to decorate your home all year round, simply trace out the shape onto MDF and follow the same steps to outline the design or write out a phrase.

 

As with all our projects, please take care while using tools, materials and equipment. This article was written by Cassie Fairy. You can find Cassie’s blog ‘My Thrifty Life’ at Cassiefairy.com, where she shares daily blog posts on Christmas DIY projects, upcycled finds, low-cost festive recipes and plenty of inspiration for living a lovely life on a budget.

 

More DIYs:

Pallet Cabinet DIY Tutorial

DIY Outdoor Pallet Bar

 

Here are a few ideas to hopefully give you some inspiration of some less obvious ways of subtly adding autumnal touches to your home as the cold draws in!

 

1. Add touches of autumnal colours

Different shades of deeper reds, yellows and browns will fit unbe-leaf-ably well with autumnal aesthetic. This colour scheme still stays within a neutral palette, yet adds some warmness to your home.

 

2. Brighten your home up with plants

Adding seasonal house plants is always a good idea. It’s been said that adding some nature and greenery to your space will help you to de-stress, which means that a pop of colour is simply a huge bonus. 😉

Autumnal Chrysanthemums and Bromeliads are gorgeous examples of autumnal house plants which can add vibrancy to your home and leaf you smiling.

 

3. Get some wood

Wood similarly has warmer tones in it and contributes to the ‘outdoors is indoors’ feel. Wood-n’t you love a bit of a rustic edge to your space? There are so many pieces of indoor furniture which use wood – why not turn over a new leaf and switch up your stool for a wooden one?

 

4. Warm up with candles and fire

Any form of (non dangerous) flame in a home is guaranteed to autumn-atically make your space so much more cosy! You can mix it up with candles of different sizes and smells, or even light up a wood fire.

 

5. Bring in the furs and rugs  

Added Hygge or comfort is a huge indicator that we’re entering into the colder months. Having a rug or blanket on hand in your space means that you’re guaranteed never to get chilly. Furr-ntastic!

 

We hope you picked up some tips on how to keep your home cosy yet seasonal this Autumn! Anyone who steps into your home will want to know where you got your inspiration from. 😉

 

How to Secure Your Home During Winter

Essential Gardening jobs for October

 

Some people prune their plants every day, whilst others never even consider it! However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated to reach that middle ground. That’s why we want to help you learn how to prune the two most common plants in your garden.

Go on, stalk us below!

To do the cuttings, you will need:

Which plants do I prune?

This can be difficult to answer because, as a rule, not all plants need pruned, and when they do, the time in the year varies depending on the plant. This is because the main reason to prune a plant is to control growth and define the shape for the following season.

For example, Hydrangeas bloom on the buds formed in the previous year. If you take their cuttings in winter then you will remove these buds, meaning that throughout the year you won’t see a single flower.

Spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned in late June, after they have flowered. We recommend pruning larger shrubs quite hard, whilst giving the younger plants just a small cut at the back.

How to prune roses

Roses are pruned in spring to rejuvenate the plant and stimulate its growth. Remove all of the dead or dying stems, as well as those with a brown interior as this implies that the winter cold has frozen them.

Always cut above a bud that is growing towards the outside of the plant, at a height of around 5cm or 6cm above. This allows the sap to reach the bud as normal, fostering growth.
It is also important to remove any stems or twigs growing at the base of the plant, sometimes known as suckers. It’s highly likely that your rose has been grafted, and allowing these branches to grow not only leaches nutrients from the rest of the plant, but can also eventually kill the grafted part.

thehandymano manomano prune plants rose cutting prune

How to prune geraniums

Geraniums are pruned in late winter or early spring. This will strengthen the plant and remove the thick, unproductive stems that tend to spoil them.
Pruning geraniums is much more drastic, as you are reducing the plant almost to ground level. This can be difficult to come to terms with at first, but, remember that for each stem you cut, more will appear!
Remove any stems that are diseased or weak, and any others that obstruct the shape you want to give the plant. The more compact geraniums are, the better they look and the more flowers will bloom.
Don’t forget that from all of the offshoots you remove, you can take cuttings for new plants. Cut the stem on an angle, apply rooting powder, and sow them in a pot with new soil.
During the blooming period, remove any flower heads the minute they begin to wither. This will allow the plant to produce new flowers instead of wasting its precious nutrients on the creation of new seeds. Cut the heads at their lowest point, right where they join the main stem. This will activate dormant buds, which will begin to grow and form new buds.

thehandymano manomano prune plants geraniums cutting prune

Top tips on how to prune

  • Don’t forget that a cut is basically a small wound that we’re creating on the plant. To prevent it from becoming infected, we recommend you use pruning sealer any time the cut has a diameter greater than 5mm. To use, apply the sealant to the cut area then spread with your fingers around the sides of the stalk. It’s a good product to keep handy not only when you are pruning, but also as a preventative measure in case of accidental breakage of our plants, grafts, or any damage caused by frost or hail. If you don’t have access to pruning paint then just make sure that you prune at the correct time of the year, as this will leave the cut to naturally heal itself!
  • You also need to keep your pruning tools sufficiently well maintained.
    One of the most important things to do is disinfect them with alcohol any time you are working on a plant that may be diseased. This prevents disease from spreading from one flower to another.
  • Quality pruning tools will provide many years of service. Make sure to clean them thoroughly after use, and oil them if you’re using them a lot. I personally recommend going for the well known brands, as you will also easily find spare parts or replacements if needed, saving yourself the price of new ones.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to feed your plants. Especially if they’ve just survived the winter cold and now we’ve subjected them to stressful pruning.

We hope you rose to this occasion and will now help your flowers bloom!

When it rains : Gardening Advice

With amber warning issues, major disruptions to transport, and shortages of loafs of bread as people stock up – it’s time to prepare for the snow storm promised to head in from the East. It’s best to stock up on supplies while you can, before the worst of the weather sets in (which is expected to be from Wednesday to Friday). This way, you can leave the house as little as possible, and stay cosy inside with a cup of tea, under the wraps of a few blankets and watching the weather unfurl from the window. If you do need to go outside for any reason, we’ve put together a guide to getting around in the snow while staying safe.

Check weather warnings before leaving the house

It’s good to get into the habit of checking weather warnings just before you leave. These are updated frequently, and checking can help you plan the safest journey.

Surviving the Best from the East Getting Around in the Snow travel snowing amber warnings cold ice frost driving safely safe bicycle

Interpreting snow warnings

Snow levels can vary greatly over relatively small area. Just because you can’t see much snow, it doesn’t mean there will be equally little at your destination. Most sites (for example Met Office) will tell you how many centimetres of snow there will be over what distance. Take a little time to decipher this information to give you the clearest idea of what route you should take.

Check your sources

Make sure you’re getting the information from a credible, reliable source. Social media and things you hear from others are useful in their own ways (reports and photos can help build up a good idea of what’s happening locally) but it’s good to check credible weather reporting websites too. The same goes for weather apps and online city forecasts – these mostly use automated data, and therefore aren’t the most reliable of sources.

Don’t drive unless you need to

Ask yourself if you really need to leave the house, bearing in mind the possibility of having accident, or even becoming stranded.

Surviving the Best from the East Getting Around in the Snow travel snowing amber warnings cold ice frost driving safely safe walking

Leave lots of time and prepare your car

You don’t want to be rushing in the snow, it’s a recipe for disaster. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get to where you’re going. Your car should be ready for a journey into the snow – with a full tank, and supplies such as food, water, warm clothing and/or a blanket, sand/cat litter, a first aid kit, a torch, a shovel, supplies to remove ice from the car and a phone. Although it seems hyperbolic, these could come in very useful, and it does no harm to be prepared. Check the fluid levels in your car, and be sure to be using a screen wash with an additive to prevent freezing.

Before you drive

Make sure you’ve removed the snow from your car before you leave – this will need to be a thorough job. Clear the ice from the entirety of your window screen, as well as clearing the side and rear windows, front and rear lights and mirrors. Don’t use hot water as the temperature change could be dangerous. Be sure to have your route planned out, sticking to major roads where possible. Check your tyres have enough grip (at least 3mm of tread) and any auto-wiper control you have is switched off (as they may have frozen to the windscreen).

Driving in the snow

To drive as safely as possible, use low revs and go up to a higher gear as soon as you can. Make your change controls as slowly and progressively as possible, as abrupt changes can cause your tyres to loose grip. In an automatic, you’ll want to be on low-ratio mode, usually shown by an ‘L’ symbol, or a snowflake. Make sure the car in front is at a safe stopping distance, which in icy conditions, should be around 20 seconds (you can measure this by watching it pass an object, then counting the seconds until you also pass this object). Keep your window screen clear at all times and put on your headlights whenever necessary.

What to do if your car skids

If your car begins to skid, take your foot off the accelerator, and don’t hit the brakes (this will only prolong the skid). When skidding, if the car begins to spin, steer in the direction of the spin to straighten up.

If your car becomes stuck

Stay calm and don’t panic. Resist spinning your tires, as it will only dig the car in deeper, as well as potentially damaging your tires. With your car in the lowest gear, try to back up slowly, stop, and then shift the car forward. Hopefully, this back and forth movement will help it gain some grip. If this fails, repeat the back and forth movement while also turning the wheel. If your car still won’t budge, try and dig out some of the snow from around the wheels. Use something like sand, cat litter, gravel or even cardboard, put this under your back wheels to help grip.

We hoped this helped, and that you spend your snow days enjoyably (and hopefully not stranded anywhere). The weather is expected to be, in some areas, the coldest spell since 1991. Make sure you wrap up warm and stay safe while getting around in the snow!

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Start off the new growing year right! These essential gardening jobs for January will get you on track for a fruitful year.

Flower Garden

Essential Gardening Jobs for January thehandymano the handy mano manomano winter cutting back flowers stems gloves

  1. Prune those plants that need it – including Wisteria (cutting by 2-3 buds) and rose bushes.
  2. If you’re planting bare root roses, find a sunny position and plant them now.
  3. Cut down stems on perennial plants (eg. Sedum).
  4. Tend to Hellebore plants, removing old leaves to make new blooms visible.

Vegetable GardenEssential Gardening Jobs for January thehandymano the handy mano manomano winter leeks fresh organic

  1. Harvest parsnips and leeks.
  2. If you’re looking for something to plant, mushrooms can be planted at this time of year and early potatoes can be sprouted.
  3. Remove leaves which are beginning to yellow from your winter brassicas as this will help prevent pests and disease.
  4. Towards the end of the month, plant early peas.

Greenhouse

Essential Gardening Jobs for January thehandymano the handy mano manomano winter greenhouse frost ice

  1. Plant Amaryllis plants indoors in pots, and these will flower beautifully in early spring.
  2. If growing potatoes, keep these inside your greenhouse so they avoid frost.
  3. Propagators or electric propagators can be used to help early seedlings.
  4. If snow covers the top of your greenhouse, be sure to remove it as soon as possible.

Eight Winter Jobs to Get Your Garden Ready for the New Growing Year

Essential Gardening Jobs for December