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The Teacher Appreciation Society

22 Jul

Our teachers do an amazing job.

Just keeping control over a class of 25+ children, let alone being able to to teach them anything takes super human levels of skill and patience.

Over the past week my friends have been posting some of their beautiful homemade gifts. I thought it would be really nice to do a round up of these offerings.

First up is Lucy, who created a fantastic personalised shopper. Her son wrote on the bag and she embroidered over the top. I think you’ll agree it is a little cracker.

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She also made some little sweet bags from brown paper and filled them with Jelly Beans

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Aida upcylced some tiles using blackboard paint to create these lovely coasters.

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Emma Re-purposed some plastic pop bottles to create an apple for teacher. She popped homemade necklaces inside.

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Cholpon made some lovely crochet bookmarks which she popped into cards made by her son.

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And as for us? We upcycled some old clipboards that I had found in the bottom of the cupboard.

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There is something here for everyone to have a go at. Get the children involved, they’ll really enjoy helping to make gifts for their teachers 🙂

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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.

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

 

 

Upcycled Desk

26 Sep

Sometimes your next project is right there on your doorstep.

Or in my case the neighbours doorstep.

On Sunday we came back from the scarecrow festival to see the our neighbour was having a clear out. She had put a few bits of furniture in the front garden, with a note saying Free, Please take.

Well I don’t need to be asked twice!

I have been thinking about getting a desk for The Bo’s room, and there right before my eyes was a tired looking but perfect pine desk.

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Into the house it went.

I asked the Bo what colour he would like me to paint it and predictably he said fire engine red. So there wasn’t going to be too much faffing in B&Q over colour swatches.

The weather has been amazing so I took the opportunity to get on my overalls old maternity dungarees and get cracking.

A quick sand and a coat of primer later I was ready to break out the red paint. Only this time I thought I would give a can of spray paint a go.

Resisting the urge to go to my nearest abandoned train depot and scrawl I Luv Charity shops  🙂 everywhere, I went in search of a face  mask.

Being sure we had one somewhere,  I picked up what looked like the right thing, only to realise it was my husbands cricket box.

I decided to take my chances without a mask (or a box).

Pretty much doing a jig as I shook the aerosol can and spraying with fairly wild abandon I thoroughly enjoyed this upcycle project.

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All in all it cost me £10.96 for the sandpaper and the spray paint. Bargain desk for The Bo!

The only downside to spraying is that it is all over far too quickly 😉

Now what can I spray next? Off to the railway it is then.

Traditional Dyed Easter Eggs

27 Mar

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So far this week has been a laugh or cry kind of week. So here is something to put a smile on anyones face.

Talking to my lovely Romanian friend Mrs P over coffee, she started to tell me how they celebrate Easter back home.

Being Orthodox Christian she told me how they decorate their eggs on Good Friday, go to a midnight service at Church and then when they come home they tap their decorated eggs together Saying “Jesus has risen” and replying “Indeed he has” before breaking their fast and eating it.

She beautifully evoked an atmospheric celebration. Full of tradition, ceremony, candle light and community.

Mrs P told me how they dye their eggs in Romania and so I could not resist giving it a go.

Mrs gave me these instructions.

1. Wash your eggs really well with soap and warm water to take any waxy residue off the surface.

2. Hard boil the eggs. I did mine for 10 mins.

3. Once your eggs have cooled, tie them up in old tights or stockings

4. In a jug add some really warm water and plenty of the food colouring of your choice. Don’t be too conservative with the dye or the eggs won’t take.

5. Dip your stockinged eggs into the dye and leave them in there until you can see that the shell has taken the colour.

6. Allow to dry off a little. Mrs P suggested putting them in muffin trays.

7. Remove the stockings and finish drying the eggs with some kitchen towel.

8. To get that lovely sheen add a tiny drop of olive oil to some kitchen towel and gently massage in to shell.

I tried yellow food dye and green which did not seem to be as affective. I am going to give red a go next.

The egg at the front of the picture had been wrapped in patterned tights which show up nicely.

Mrs P told me that she sometimes adds things to the stockings like leaves or herbs in order to get patterns and imprints on the surface. I think I will try that with the children over Easter weekend.

Egg sandwiches for all!

Wishing you a Happy Easter break x

Sharpies, Plates and Dishwashers Don’t Mix!

22 Mar

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So Here’s the thing. All over Pinterest you find tips on decorating tableware with Sharpie Pens, and in pretty much all of these it is claimed that they are dishwasher proof.

Well they are not.

My children’s cousins came to visit and I thought it would be a really nice idea if they decorated their own plates to take home. They all sat beautifully working on their own personal designs, little tongues sticking out through sheer concentration. They went in the oven as instructed and they all looked fab.

However once they had been through the dishwasher half of their hard work had disappeared. It does seem to depend on the colour. Black stays put but reds, greens, blues and yellows just can’t cope with the heat and power of a dishwasher.

All is not lost though.

I would still recommend plate decorating with Sharpies.

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees. Decorate your cup, plate, bowl however you like. (I’m no artist, but you get the idea from my picture). When you are happy with your design pop in the oven for 30min. When the 30min is up, simply switch off the oven and let them cool down completely whilst still in there.

I think I will do it for one of the little people’s birthday parties.

You can buy white plates and cups really cheap from most places like Ikea, Poundstretcher or Wilko’s. I got mine from Tesco for £2.50.

The children can decorate their own plates as party favours, which they can keep and use forever/until they break it! I think this is a thrifty and nice alternative to the usual party bags.

Make sure you write HANDWASH ONLY on the bottom as you don’t want upset little people asking you what happened to their handywork.

I think I will give normal permanent markers a go to see if this gives the same effect. I will let you know how I get on.

What to Wear?

13 Mar

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I love a Wedding. It is such a great excuse to catch up with old friends and hit the dance floor. The Bride always looks beautiful, the mothers always cry and the speeches are always priceless.

Being a guest has always felt like a sartorial nightmare. I have spent a lot of time, money and energy trying desperately to get it right and look appropriate. With varying degrees of success.

The Chinese style dress was always a safe option and got wheeled out for several weddings. I had a beautiful silk shirt dress which got a couple of outings.

However the strapless bootylicious dress was probably a mistake.

Having babies seemed to make me completely lose the plot. Somehow you lose your sense of self and your shape has changed so you no longer know what suits you.

I did wear a dress that flattered my new curves to my brothers wedding. I felt happy in that.

But when I squeezed myself into my pre pregnancy safe option for a wedding it didn’t go so well. I was slinking around the drinks reception in my safe dress and control pants feeling pretty pleased with myself (and Breathless) when an absolute peach of a woman asked me if I was expecting.

#note to self, just because you can zip it up doesn’t mean you should wear it. And this is no longer your safe dress!

So at the next wedding I went completely the other way and trundled off looking like a cross between the Queen and Camilla at the Royal wedding.

This time around I decided I was just not going to stress about it. I randomly found some fab orange trousers in the sale at H&M for £5. They just needed to have the length altered.

So it was a trip round to Mum’s for some guidance. I really just wanted her to watch me cut them which is always the scary part. I managed to get them cut with no sharp intakes of breath and finished the slip stitching off at home.

To my relief both legs were the same length but who would be looking that closely anyway?

I paired up my trousers with shirt, shoes and bag that I already owned and it turned out to be the most comfortable and cheapest outfit I have ever worn to a wedding. I could sit, stand and dance easily.

The wedding was lovely. Everyone scrubbed up well and it is always a pleasure to catch up with old friends. Eat, drink and throw a few shapes.

Conkers Shells, Elbows and Empty Picture Frames

24 Feb

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I have been in the process of re decorating some of the downstairs rooms and I needed pictures to put on the walls.

Our walls have been pretty much empty since 2007 apart from my weird habit of putting up picture frames with no pictures in. I always plan to eventually put family photo’s in the frames but never seem to get round to the sorting and printing part.

As I’m sure you can imagine this drives Mr B and particularly my friend Mrs H absolutely bonkers.

I think out of sheer desperation Mrs H offered to take us all into the woods and shoot us (with her rather snazzy digital camera). She is a talented amateur photographer amongst other things and she took lots of beautiful pictures of the Blythins.

I’m not sure how she managed it to be honest. Liv decided that she wasn’t going to walk after about 10 minutes and The Bo had a fit over all the conker shells and refused to walk until they had all been swept out of his path. (Diva).

A week or so later after much tinkering and cropping Mrs H presented me with a CD of lovely photos and I was spoilt for choice. Eventually I chose three portrait style pictures and scuttled off to Boots to get them printed.

That was in November. They have sat in an envelope ever since just waiting for this lazy lady to get them lovingly framed and put up. Mrs H was not impressed.
Well three months down the line and today I decided must be the day. So it was off to the big, blue Scandi box that is Ikea.

I prevaricated. I picked up a throw, an abacus, some mini plates for decorating and a lamp shade needs to be returned. We had coffee and cake. I looked at fabric and accidentally elbowed a lady in the head. I put it off.

There is something about buying picture frames that I find really stressful. They never seem to make them in the same size as the photos. It shouldn’t be this hard! Exasperated I picked three lovely black frames and decided that whatever else happened I would make them fit.

I turns out that as usual I overcomplicated things and I didn’t lose as much of the pictures as I had feared. They look lovely.

Putting up pictures has always been a problem for me as I can never seem to get them straight. That is until I found a great tip on a Blog called Centsational Girl. It is so simple and easy that it makes you slap your forehead say “Why didn’t I think of that”. All I needed to do was cut out templates of the frames, marking on where the hole needs to be. Then I stuck it to the wall and played about with them until I was happy. Once I decided that they were where I wanted them, I took a deep breath and hammered a tack through the X that marked the spot. And Voila! Straight pictures and no extra holes to patch up.

So I have beautiful family photos hung on my walls at a fraction of the price of professional ones.

Mrs H will be pleased.

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