Pin It

8 Apr

After the high jinx of last weeks post, it is time to get back to reality  ;-)

This week (instead of meeting Jane Garvey),  I was in Ikea on the hunt for some pinboards.

The children like to collect mementos of everything from postcards to bus tickets to leaflets and photo’s.

They have a their mothers hoarding tendencies, so I thought it would be nice for them to have somewhere to put their treasures as a reminder of fun times.

Ikea had some perfect pinboards for under £5, so I picked a couple up with the idea of personalizing them.


Armed with my current weapons of choice (Glue and staple guns + bog standard PVA glue) I set to work.

Using some pretty butterfly paper we decoupaged the frame of the Livster’s using good old-fashioned PVA glue.


Once that was dry and trimmed I dug up an old net curtain with a fetching check pattern on it.

Cutting it to the size of the cork surface, I then staple gunned it on.

It was very satisfying.


To tidy up those raw edges,  I chose baby pink ribbon and using a glue gun stuck in as a border between the frame and the main part of the board.


And voila! A place for all of Livs memories  to be pinned.


With the Bo’s we left the frame alone. I found some fun spaceman fabric amongst the junk in my trunk ;-) . I used that to cover the cork.

wpid-20140406_153304.jpg wpid-20140406_164419.jpg


A really simple, quick make.


Mrs B BC2

1 Apr

I have had to keep this information very tightly under wraps, even from my closest friends and family, but I can now reveal some very exciting news.

I shall keep it brief as it is a long and winding story. But the long and the short of it is that I have been approached by BBC 2 to be a judge on their newest prime time weekday project.

Having read my blog with interest, they felt that my passion for thriftiness and upcycling would be perfect for their flagship show The Great British Upcycle.

Like The Great British Bake Off and The Sewing Bee,  the object of the show is to bring together some very talented amateurs and pit them against each other in a series of upcycle challenges.

William Morris, Kirsty Allsop and Martha Stewart are lined up as fellow judges. Each of us representing one of the following. Someone old, someone new, someone borrowed and someone with glue. I’ll leave you to guess who’s who ;-)

The comedy duo Trevor and Simon (Of Live and Kicking fame) will present the show and lend support to the contestants as they face moral, emotional and mental melt downs.

This promises to be the most brutal show aired since Bill Oddy had a pop at Kate Humble on Spring Watch.

Filming starts late April at Bullring in Birmingham, but in the meantime I have a whirlwind of interviews to do in order to promote the show.

On Woman’s Hour tomorrow I will be talking to Jane Garvey about my views on the 2014 Woman’s Hour Power list.

After this I will be whizzing over to Look East, where I will be talking about Milton Keynes and it’s place on the international stage.

Bruce Lee the wise once said “showing off is the fool’s idea of glory” , and with that in mind I shall say no more,  other than….. Watch this space ;-)

Silhouette Portraits

30 Mar

I stole this idea from my friend, who in turn had stolen it from another friend and so I shall pass it on for you to steal at your leisure.

Silhouette portraits have been around for thousands of years and they seem to be having a revival.

I found a really interesting history of the silhoutte here if you would like to know more.

The great thing about a silhouette is that it creates  touching memento of someones likeness with very little artistic skill involved (always a bonus).

I thought it would be a nice gift for Mum to create a portrait of her Grandchildren.

Here is what I did.

Firstly, and trickiest of all, I took a profile picture of each child.

I made sure my daughter’s hair was tied back to get a good clean outline, and that their chins were up so as to show some neck.

Next I printed of the pictures and the traced the outline onto some plain paper.


Once that was done, I broke out the black poster paint and filled in the picture, being carefull not to go over the lines. It would probably be easier just to use black card, but I didn’t have any, so I improvised.


Whilst that was drying I dug out a couple of old white picture frames that had seen better days.


I gave them a new lease of life by decoupaging some pretty paper over the surface and leaving it to dry on the door handle.


Once once my silhouette was dry I very carefully cut it out using a Stanley knife, attached it to some white card and popped it into my newly upcycled frame.

And there we have it.


This was such an easy make, in fact the most tricky thing about it was getting the children to stand still for long enough to get a profile picture of them.


Happy Mothers Day xx

Thrifty Homemade Easter Bonnets.

24 Mar

The Livster’s class are having and Easter Bonnet competition on Friday, so it was the perfect opportunity to get crafty again.

Paper plates and paper bowls cluttering up dark corners of my cupboards made a good starting point for  our bonnets.

I cut a hole in the centre of the plate like so-


And then glued a the bowl in the hole to make the crown of the hat.


Once the plate was dry it was time for the fun part. Decorating.

Because I only like “controlled” fun (I am a killjoy), I specified to the small people that they could use any colour paint except black and brown. Otherwise everything goes a sludgy colour. Sludgy makes me a bit twitchy.


Once the paint was dry, Liv had a rummage through my button collection and chose the blingiest ones she could find to embellish her Bonnet. She also chose some pink ribbon for tying under the chin and we glued the bits into place.


Obviously I had to get in on the act and make my own. I think I may have gone a step too far with the Victorian style ribbon ear flaps, but I got carried away.


Anyway, we both thoroughly enjoyed making our thrifty, nifty easter bonnets. We’ll probably tinker with them all week.

Give it a go, it costs pennies and is easy and fun to do. x






Silent Sunday

23 Mar


Tie Dye Eggs

19 Mar

This post starts with a Pinterest fail.

I had seen that you can dye eggs using silk ties or scarves. Obviously the results on Pinterest looked fabulous.

Without much planning I decided to give it a go.

And the result was an egg that looks like a black eye.


To be honest I had a further attempt with the same results,  at which point I threw my toys out of the pram and got adolescent over it.

A week or so later I decided to have another go.

Firstly I bought an extraordinarily un-attractive 100% silk tie from my local charity shop for the princely sum of £1.50.

It doesn’t need to be a tie. It could be a scarf or a hanky. Just as long as it is 100% silk and the pattern is bold and colourful. To be honest the more tasteless the better.

At home I picked the tie apart, taking out all the bits and pieces and was left with just the silk fabric.

Next I took my egg and place it on the silk, making sure the right side was in contact with the egg.

Gathering up all the fabric tightly around the egg I secured with a hairband. (I went wrong last time by not having the fabric tight enough).



Using the fabric of an old pillow I then tightly wrapped the egg, securing with another elastic band.


Next thing I did was to pop them in a pan with some cold water covering the top and threw in a glug of vinegar. I bought it to the boil and then boiled it for a good 2o minutes.


When the twenty minutes was up allowed them to cool for as long as possible (which wasn’t long) and unwrapped them.

The results were not bad.


They look like abstract stained glass eggs. The children might enjoy colouring in the shapes with felt tips, or embellishing with stick on jewels


Silent Sunday

23 Feb


To Spark Or Not To Spark?

18 Feb

What do you get when you mix a very flat car battery, two women and four children under 6?

Let me tell you what you get.

Jump leads, stress sweat, sparks, the smell of burning, a touch and go journey to Frosts Garden centre for some “half term fun” and a couple of swivel eyed 30 something women on the verge of hitting the Gin.

I would love to tell you that we didn’t resort to any of the old damsel in distress tricks, but that would be, well, sort of a lie.

Lu did approach a couple of shifty looking guys on the corner my street to ask if they knew how to jump-start a car, and we both phoned our husbands though that was more for moral support than actual advice as neither really seemed to have a scooby. One said that it was supposed to spark a bit and the other said that it was definitely not supposed to spark a bit.

We watched a YouTube tutorial,  read the instructions on the packet and we got it started. We punched the air,  we got a small cheer from the woman walking by and we did a little dance like it was one in the eye to the patriarchy.

Then we drove round the corner and ground to a very resounding halt. We had to start the whole process again, but this time with the pressure of holding up traffic. After my initial dumbstruck rabbit in a headlight “What the @#*$!!! ” moment and a couple of calls to our moral supporters, like pros we got it hooked up. I stood back while it sparked a bit (still not sure if that is good or not) and got it going while many, many members of our wonderful society walked past and  gaped rather than offering any kind of assistance.  Almost as good as the time I stood on a busy road side, heavily pregnant,  with a blown tyre whilst everyone just slowed down a bit to stare and then went on their merry way.

We eventually got going and gave the battery a good charge on the way to the garden centre.

The children got to paint some lovely bird houses and we had the least relaxing coffee ever,  already completely wired from the earlier events of the day.

However the children enjoyed their bird house decorating. Though their efforts will be annihilated the moment they see fresh air and  British weather. So a word of advice if you are planning on doing this. Make sure you have something that does exactly what it says on the tin, to protect your little treasures work.


At least I can tick Jump-start a car off my bucket list :-)



Share The Love!

14 Feb

valentines slippers

I may be bitter, I may be a cynic. I am probably a bitter old cynic, but I am so over valentines day.

Obviously if hubby came home with a new dress and said “Woman! get your coat I am taking you somewhere that you can be utterly fabulous, and I shall worship at the altar of your fabulousness” I would be less over it. But hey I’m a fickle, bitter, old cynic :-D

Today I came across Crafts on Sea’s latest blog post. Why not share a little love and kindness for no apparent reason?

Last week I received two random acts of kindness. One was in the garage where the assistant not only didn’t try to rip me off (Always a worry to me) but  actually went the extra mile.

The second was a man who, on leaving the car park handed me his ticket which was valid until the following morning.

Neither of these people gained anything from their kindness and so I would like to pay it forward.

This is what I am going to do.

The first five people to comment (actually on the blog, not Facebook) will receive a little something from me at some random point over the next 12 months. It could be anything from something handmade (apologies in advance), tasty, cheeky, funny or a little card with some utterly inspiring pearls of wisdom. You just never know!

All I ask is that you comment on this post by telling me about a random act of kindness that you have received and how you plan to pay it forward.

So go on, share a little love. It is valentines day after all. XxxXxxx

1st Anniversary

13 Feb

Today is big.

Enormous actually.

It is my 1 year Blog anniversary.

WordPress even sent me a congratulations message.

The one from the Queen must have got lost in the post.

I have sewn, grown, baked, boiled, spray painted, upcycled and charity shopped my way through the last twelve months.

I have accidentally started a craft group which has evolved into a leaderless, hapless band of women brandishing various crafting tools and having a crack at, well anything. As long as there is tea, cake, or something stronger involved.

So what is next for me?

World domination of course. But that still needs work, so in the mean time it will be more of the same.

This week I have been mostly free range crocheting. Basically making it up as I go along.

I can’t follow patterns or instructions. They make me anxious and twitchy, so I have just been sitting in front of the TV in the evening and experimenting, unraveling and starting again.

I’ll probably unravel this effort later.


You never know though, by my 2nd anniversary I may have created a very cackhanded blanket of which I will be unspeakably proud of.

I have a list of projects to tick off my to do list and my thinking is that if I commit them to a blog post they will be more likely to get done.

  1. Spruce up the drawers and the wardrobes in the children’s rooms. I have lace and spray paint in mind for the Livster’s room and different coloured drawers and nobs for The Bo
  2. Upcycle The Bo’s desk chair/old dining chair. I am thinking white or blue eggshell with a nice cushion (I’ve gone all Lawrence Llewlyn-Bowen)
  3. I have an unloved dressing table that needs a new lease of life and some uplifting colour.
  4. I want to do more foraging later this year but on top of fruits I want to have a go at some elder flower recipes and also some rosehip recipes
  5. It is really about time I had a got at making curtains (Mum if your reading this brace yourself).
  6. I would like to get have a go at putting up shelving (straight).
  7. I have some beautiful plates and a couple of vintage handbags that needs some ingenious ideas for displaying. I may steal Mrs H’s clever plate display idea.
  8. To upcycle some more old bedding. In the whole of last year that was the project that I was most proud of.

No doubt I will get side tracked along the way, but I think this is enough to be getting on with for now.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by this year and thanks for all your lovely comments. I really love all the feedback.

So Cheers! All the Best! Chin Chin!

And here’s to the next twelve months xx

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Not a writer or a journalist, just a father with two amazing children. I blog about stuff.

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Anti-poverty campaigner for Oxfam and Child POverty Action Group, and supporting the Trussell Trust. Guardian recipe columnist. Mother. Food blogger. Cookbook author. Twitter@ :MsJackMonroe


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