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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.



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



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


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 🙂


Suffolk Puffs For Little Princess’s

20 Jun

Suffolk puffs were the theme of our latest craft gathering.


Extraordinarily easy to make and incredibly versatile, these little beauties were so quick to create  that we had produced over twenty by the time the tea and cake was being served.

No longer content with just trying our hand at various crafts, our group has developed a social conscience.

It had been suggested in the past that we put our work towards charitable causes, and this project lends itself to all sorts of creative ideas.

Hair clips are what we decided to make.



Mrs F got in contact with Little princess trust. They are a fantastic charity that provide wigs for children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.

To our amazement they got back to us almost immediately saying they would love to receive some of our work and they would ensure that they went to the  children they help.

And so our humble craft group has begun to evolve from a gang of women trying out crafts, drinking wine, exchanging birth stories and feeding a ceramic pelican with beer money,  to something that might actually help someone,  somewhere in a small way.

We are becoming a mini movement and quite possibly a force to be reckoned with.

We just need to make the hair clips first 😉

Upcyled Bunting

23 May

Choosing fabrics, whether it be for curtains, table cloths, cushions, clothing or just for sewing is a very personal thing.

It says so much about our tastes and personality and can leave an indelible mark others.

In the last twelve months our family has suffered the loss of three grandmothers. All very different and extraordinary women with their own remarkable and unique stories.

I have been lucky enough to collect some of their old fabrics, which I have kept with the idea of giving new life to these seemingly mundane objects.

So when my mother in law asked me to make some bunting for her little summer-house, I had a rifle through my fabrics and found a piece that had belonged to her mother.

It turned out to be perfect for garden themed bunting, the pattern being a mix of summer flowers and summer fruits.

I got to work cutting the triangles using my trusty Kellogg’s template.



I lined the back with a simple cream cotton and chose a bold cherry red bias binding  to bring the whole thing together.


I was quite pleased with the result and my lovely in-laws sent me photo of it in situ. I think it looks pretty good.

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(I’ll skim over the part where I made it slightly too short, simple arithmetic was never my strong point).

I have another couple of upcycling projects coming up using some of my own Grandmothers fabrics. I am still toying with ideas, but I think one may be a cathedral window quilt and the other may involve Suffolk puffs. These two techniques would be great for showcasing many of her fabric choices without needing large quantities of any one pattern. Plus this involves hand stitching which I love 🙂

I’d better get cracking then!


Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb!

21 May


I was recently given a bundle of home-grown rhubarb and couldn’t decide what to do with it.

A friend reminded me of a cream tea we had taken recently which involved rhubarb and ginger jam.

We had enjoyed it so much I thought I would give it a go myself.

Here is what I did –

480 g rhubarb washed and cut into 1cm ish pieces

480 g jam sugar

1/2 lemon zest and juice

25 g stem ginger

2cm fresh ginger peeled and grated


Sterilise around three small jars and put a saucer in the freezer.

Add all your ingredients together and give it a good stir.


And then leave for covered for an hour or so to let the sugar dissolve into the juices.


Transfer to a pan and on a medium heat stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Turn up the heat and boiled rapidly until you a have reached the setting point. Do this by putting a blob on your saucer and leaving  it for a couple of minutes. Run a finger through the blob and if it wrinkles and doesn’t run back into the clearing that your finger has left,  it is done.

transfer into sterilised jars and screw on the lid immediately.

I decided to use some friends as guinea pigs.

Mrs W made the most beautiful scones.

I was slightly concerned I might ruin them with my concoction.



The result was tasty but could have done with a little more ginger to give it a bigger kick, but I guess that is down to personal taste and trial and error.

It was as easy as any jam to make and makes a bit of a change from strawberry jam on scones.


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.

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A really simple, quick make.


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

Guest Post From Ladybird Lab- Card Making

3 Feb

Today Mrs Blythin Makes comes to you via Ladybird Lab who are talking about handmade greetings cards.

I have never  attempted making cards before,  but having looked at their beautiful work I have been inspired to give it a go.

So without further ado I shall pass you into the more than capable hands of Ladybird Lab…..

Thank you to Hannah for giving us the opportunity to be a guest blogger.  The Mrs Blythin Makes blog has lots of great, inspirational ideas so it’s a real pleasure to have this opportunity to talk about card making.

As way of an introduction, our names are Tasneem and Alefiyah.  We are sisters who create handmade cakes, treats and cards in our Ladybird Lab – this is where all the creativity happens!  You may have seen us at The Creed Street Theatre, Old Wolverton Bath House flea markets and other local craft events.  We will be writing about card making in this guest post.

Making cards is easy, fun and can save you money.  It’s lovely to know that something you have created has brought a smile to someone’s face and as you can personalise your cards you can make the person receiving your card feel extra special!

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Here are a few simple steps to follow when making cards which may inspire some of you to give it a go:

  • Sketch some rough ideas of  how you want your card to look.  We always find this helps, it makes the task seem less daunting and gives you  an opportunity to really think about what the recipient would like.
  • Once your sketch is complete you need to research and decide on what images and techniques you want to use to create your cards.
  • Many shops now sell craft items for card making and a wide variety of items can be brought from your local craft store.  However, it’s always fun to try and recycle and re-use things you already have and that are readily available.
  • You can print out copyright free images, draw your own images or cut out designs from gift wrap and wall paper.
  • You can use beads,  sequins, stamps, textured paper, glitter, ribbons and stickers to enhance your creation.

Mixing different techniques and crafty items will make your card look and feel unique.  Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, a lot of them (such as stamping and creating dimensional effects) are really simple but look very effective.

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You can add a 3-dimensional feel to your card by adding form pads beneath layers to make them slightly raised.

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Don’t forget to keep old cards you have received – you can recycle and re-use parts from them to create new cards or you can do what we do and draw inspiration from lots of your favourite cards.

Don’t worry if some of your earlier attempts at making cards go wrong, as this is part of the learning and experimental process, and the good thing is, that these can always be recycled!

Feel free to have a look at the Ladybird Lab blog and Facebook page to see cards we have created in the Ladybird Lab and to look at some of the card techniques we have used:

We wish you many happy card making times!

Tasneem & Alefiyah – Ladybird Lab

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Resolute in my Resolutions!

20 Dec

I don’t usually do new years resolutions.

When I do, they are never made with very much conviction.

But on Dec 31 2012 I made six. I numbered them, put them out there on Facebook and meant it.

1. Make

2. Thrift

3. Never spend more than I have to.

4. Learn something new as often as possible

5. Say what I think more often and bottle up less

6. Accept that you don’t always fit in and be ok with that.

When I set these down I had not decided to start writing and I had not really planned how I was going to achieve these vague, open-ended resolutions. But I did know that I was going to do it.

The decision to start writing a blog a couple of months later made sense as it covered all the bases.

At first people I knew and loved sort of looked askance at me, not really sure what I was doing or trying to achieve. In fact I wasn’t really sure myself and felt almost apologetic when I posted my early pieces.

I am a can’t do kind of girl. I have always tried to find reasons not to do things, always worried about how I will be judged and always assuming the worst.

Blogging has opened my eyes to the fact that, maybe I do have something small to give. That people are not as quick to pass judgement as I always expect and that I do have a voice and an opinion. It has given me a confidence in interacting with people that I had somehow lost years ago.

My world has opened  in ways that I hadn’t expected. I have made more new friends in the last 12 months than I have made in the last 12 years and I have re-connected with old acquaintances.

Weirdly coming to accept that I don’t quite fit has kind of freed me of an over cautiousness and awkwardness that has held me back in the past.

This year has been a tough year but blogging has given me a structure, a focus and forced me to be positive where I would otherwise feel stunned into silence.

As for learning something new as often as possible….

I have taught myself to do this for a start. Just working out how to add a link to a post was a challenge to begin with. But I have done it.

I have also learned that no one is perfect. Kirsty Allsop hit an all time low when she tied dyed pants last week.

Leather look jeans are not comfortable. I need to sit down more than I used to so wearing trousers that don’t allow you to do this is folly. Exchange for a sensible jumper.

I have learned that I am a very bad waitress.

I have taught myself to upcycle a Bureau and made over a desk for The Bo. I have re-purposed old bedding

I have made gifts of chocolate and roses and maps.

This blog won’t win awards or  change anyones life. It is not the biggest or the best but it is mine and I love it.

All in all I think I have achieved what I set out to do on 31st Dec 2012. Lets see what 2014 brings.

If you have taken the time to read, I hope you enjoyed it and thankyou for stopping by

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year XX


Tea Cup Candle

16 Dec

I found this rather attractive cup and saucer a few months ago and picked it up for pennies.


My plan was to make a candle with it, but as always it sat gathering dust whilst I mustered the time and the inclination to buy the stuff that I needed.

Mum and Dad had been sorting through the loft recently and this inevitably means that I get dumped with stuff that don’t want and will never use.

In the past I have been presented with in line roller skates from when I was 12, a calligraphy set where the inks had dried out and the nibs were bent and loads of A level art books, paintings and sheafs of paper that send my husband apoplectic and a bit Wicker Man.

This time though she actually found something I needed.

My old candle making kit. Every child should have one 😉


Not only was it full of wax beads and wick but it was full of old candles that I had obviously planned to recycle in the future (though I probably was not thinking 20 years in the future).

Because I am too lazy to bother with instructions and clearly arrogant  enough to think that I can do it without help, I just made it up as I went along. And it shows.

I took a cheese grater to the old candle of choice (blood-red of course) and grated the wax into a bowl. Having done this I made put the bowl over a pan of hot water and let it melt town to molten lava.


This is where it all started to go a bit pear-shaped. I decided that sticking a blob of melted wax would be enough to hold town the end the end of the wick to the bottom of the cup.

I hadn’t really thought this through. As soon as I poured hot wax into the cup it melted (obviously) the wax blob and I lost my wick, quite literally. Cue me poking around with then end of a spoon to try to re-stick it.

I eventually botched it back into position and tied the loose end around a spoon to keep the wick straight.


Once again impatience and an inability to stop fiddling got the better of me and I released the wick too soon, resulting in a sunken middle.


And because I hadn’t practised first, my poor sister in-law got a truly sub-standard birthday present.

Sorry Sis, hope the pretty lunch bag made up for it x

Peg Wreaths

12 Dec

In theory as a craft (?) blogger I should be blocking up everyone’s news feed with loads of amazing/ropy stuff to  inspire/ annoy/ignore (delete as appropriate).

In practise there are not enough hours.

Work, Birthdays, Christmas plays, card writing,office parties and shopping have eaten into my time budget. Oh and washing, ironing, school runs and food shopping.

Clawing it back is not really an option.

There have been things happening quietly in the background. My sloe gin doesn’t need any help and the jams and chutneys I made during the harvest are quietly maturing and gathering dust.

So it was with pleasure and relief that I filled the car with ladies, cakes and jangling bags of pegs, wire and beads.

We were all headed to our second ever craft group, this time hosted by Mrs H.

Our mission that evening was to create a peg wreath to attach Christmas cards.

There had been much hand wringing and anxiety over what people did and didn’t have, how they should colour their pegs and the general quality of their preparations.

Most people spray painted their pegs the colour of their choice. One lady in what can only be described as a moment of pure insanity dismantled every peg, dyed them and the re-assembled them. Others simply glued pretty craft paper to one side. Mine were shoddily and hastily painted in the first thing I got my hands on.

Wine, bucks fizz and many peanuts later we had all created uniquely different but equally pretty little wreaths that will keep some organised chaos for all those Christmas cards.

It is incredibly simple to do. Bead, peg, bead, peg, bead, peg. You get the idea.

These are just a few examples of the creations. Mine is the last and worst.

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