April Newsletter 2 2022: Tidy (and well decorated) Home = Tidy Mind

Learn about painting and decorating in our 100-hour certificate course!

Painting and decorating involves a range of knowledge, skills and thought processes and this online distance learning course is intended to address those.

Painting and decorating involve applying finishes to the surfaces on buildings, furniture, fences, or anything else. Surfaces are often given their final surface by painting them but there are other ways of doing this too.

For example, interior walls may be tiled, wallpapered, or panelled; exterior walls may be rendered, veneered, pebble-dashed, and so forth.

The work involved requires more than just having the skill to use a paintbrush. You must also consider all the options and make appropriate choices about the type of finish you want, then select the appropriate materials, understand what equipment is needed and how to use it, and have knowledge and skills in the techniques which may be used in order to achieve that finish.

More advanced skills may include having an appreciation of design, such as colour matching and colour schemes, using different textures to complement other surfaces, use of tone, and so on.

You might also need to consider things like longevity since not all finishes are especially durable. Some might last for many years whereas others might need changing or ‘brushing up’ every so often.

Furthermore, regular maintenance can be expensive so whilst the initial outlay may be reasonable, ongoing costs could make what seems like an astute investment at the time become burdensome.

There are 9 lessons:

  1. Introduction
  2. Paints
  3. Preparation for Painting
  4. Painting methods/techniques
  5. Special paint effects
  6. Wallpapering
  7. Tiling
  8. Paneling
  9. Other Surface Treatments

5 Ways to Preserve Food at Home

It seems you can’t get through a news cycle without some terrible end of the world crisis in the making.  Whether it’s bellicose wars of words between nuclear-armed states, global warming or the outright collapse of the biosphere, it can be hard to shake off a progressive sense of doom. For the more pragmatic minded, the end of the world isn’t necessarily the end. For such unfazable souls the question of the day after the end is nothing more than an abrupt, “What now?”

Amongst the many concerns in a post-disaster scenario, food and water rate are at the top of our priorities because they are among our most fundamental human needs. However, this is really not something new. It is easy to forget that it has only been a few decades since we have been able to rely upon great warehouse-sized supermarkets, brimming with food. Less than a century ago managing unpredictable food supplies to make them stretch was an essential household skill.

This is great news both for the would-be survivalist and those who just want to live a bit more self-sufficiently. By learning the methods of the past any larder can be stocked with tasty, durable food. Some essential foodstuffs worth considering for anyone of these mindsets would include:

Bread Baking

loaves of crusty bread, freshly baked

Although bread itself has a relatively short shelf-life the main ingredient, flour keeps for a very long time. Properly stored, flour can stay usable for a year or more. A skilled baker can create a huge variety of different breads and similar products based on whatever is available but the core methods of kneading and preparing dough is one well worth learning.

Jams6 jam jars lined up on a shelf. Jars filled with preserves and sealed with wax paper and string

Making jams is another excellent way to make the most of foodstuffs beyond their natural expiry date. Jams and marmalades last for ages so long as they are kept in proper conditions and are relatively easy to make. The secret here is the sugar which can keep for years in the right storage.


3 jars of preserved vegatbles. At the front is a jar of pickled tomatoes. On the left, a jar of plum tomatoes and to the right, a jar of pickles

Similar to jams, pickles were a traditional way to make the bounty of summer and harvest last all year. Pickling is generally done by fermenting a food in brine or immersing it in vinegar.  Common candidates for pickling include meats, vegetables, fruits and eggs. Again these foods can keep for months making them an excellent way to extend a sparse diet in difficult times.

Drying and Curing Meat

cured ham on a wooden chopping board, with the top right cut off to display the red meat

Drying and curing meat are methods of preserving meat that was more popular in the past before refrigeration.  In both cases, the idea is to remove as much moisture from the meat and to cover it in salt which makes it inedible to the microbes that would otherwise eat it.  Beef and pork are traditional choices as they take well to the process.


four jars of preserve canned with metal lids and updside down

Canned food was a revolution in food technology when it first came out and is still a major method of preservation today. The shelf-life of such food is legendary – with some varieties allegedly still good to eat a hundred years later. With the right know-how, it is even possible to create canned vegetables and meats at home. Those concerned with making the most of limited resources can appreciate not having to throw foods away.

This is just the beginning of self-sufficiency where food is concerned. Human beings had to go for millennia preserving their food in environments as diverse as rain-sodden northern Europe to scorching Africa without our modern comforts of refrigeration. And if our ancestors could do it, so can we!

Why hobbies are important

What is a Hobby?

Hobbies can help us relax and unwind after a long day at work or to enjoy at weekends after a hard-working week. They are essential for our mental and physical well-being because they enable us to change the pace of life and allow us to “switch off” from the pressures we experience in our lives.

Good hobbies to take up can be indoor or outdoor, and the types of hobbies available can be recreational or constructive. Popular hobbies can include DIY, hobby craft and activities in the garden. They can also include things such as table-top games, board games and sporting activities.

But pursuing a hobby doesn’t always end there. Many people use their interest to change career in mid-life. For example, perhaps a person can go from being an indoor office worker to opening their own landscape gardening business.

Hobbies for both men and women can be emotionally, physically and financially rewarding. We never know where our spare time interests will take us or how they can empower us to improve our self and professional development.

paints and brushes on a wooden board

Take a page from the Good Life

Perhaps the best example of turning hobbies and interests into a life-changing decision was demonstrated in the popular television program, the Good Life. Tom was fed up with his Monday to Friday 9 – 5 job in advertising and marketing and felt the need for a better quality of life. After his wife Barbara and he completed a pros and cons list, which included not liking his job and not wanting a job at all, they decided to go “off-grid” and become self-sufficient.

Who can forget the struggles, but the ultimate satisfaction of the two and the contrast between Tom and Barbara’s life of self-reliance and the more affluent lifestyle of their neighbours, Jerry and Margo.

Successful self-sufficiency requires competency in many disciplines, such as having skills in carpentry and building renovation, poultry, goat and pig husbandry, being able to grow fruit and vegetables for food and much more. These essential life skills can all be learned through distance learning which, unlike class college programs, allows you to gain the required knowledge and skills in your own time, at a pace that you are comfortable with.

How can a hobby become a career change?

A hobby skill can also be essential to put on your C.V., especially if your interest can be linked in an appropriate way to the job you are applying for. Employers like to know about an applicant’s hobbies and interests. If you can passionately discuss something that interests you at an interview, it can help interviewers gain a better insight into your personality and how you might bring that same passion to the job. For example, if you are a keen gardener and are applying for positions that relate to creating a better environment like, clean energy and sustainability, you can demonstrate that you care and have a genuine concern for nature.

So, where do your spare time interests lie? And how will you learn about them? There are three main ways to learn a new hobby.

1) You can “shadow” a friend or member of the family already involved in the activity.
2) You can read books on the subject.
3) you can take an online course and acquire your learning with the help of expert tutors in your area of interest.




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