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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 🙂


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!


Junior Crafters

16 Apr

Trying to find things to entertain the children during school holidays can be challenging at times and often expensive.

By the time you add in the petrol,  cost per child and the obligatory coffee and cake, then you are looking at a £20 plus afternoon.

Our craft group decided that we could do it just as well, if not better ourselves.

Our venue was a church hall that doubles up as a pre-school, so the facilities were perfect, with a great kitchen and lots of tables and chairs. It cost us only £30 to have it for the whole morning and we split the cost (£3 per family).

We had several different craft tables set up, each one was hosted by a different parent, so there was something to entertain everyone.


There was cake decorating,

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Paper plane making, with a target board for target practise!

bunny whiskers,


beaded butterflies,


homemade play dough and lots of sticking and cutting.


The children decorated their own bags to take their crafts and cakes home in.


And there was a good supply of tea, coffee, squash, beautiful home-made cakes and a fruit platter.

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It was a bit of an experiment, but it seemed to pay off.

Everyone got stuck in and many hands made very light work.

All of the children had a fantastic morning, and there was something to suit every age.

And all for the princely sum of £3 per family.

We are already thinking about the next one!



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.


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





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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It’s Just an Occasional Thing….

21 Jan

Annie Sloan paint is quite pricey.

I have been a bit nervous of buying it and then messing up, but today I took the plunge and picked up a tester pot.


I thought I would give my occasional table a much-needed makeover and it was a small enough project to test the Sloany stuff.


Having got some advice from the lovely Tamsin at Eddie and Pearl and a man in overalls, I got started as soon as I got home.

A little bit goes a long way.  I watered it down to a single cream consistency and it was very quick drying, particularly when you blast it with the hair dryer.


After I had given it two coats and allowed it to dry I used a clean cloth to rub in some clear wax. I didn’t buy the Sloan brand,  just a generic clear wax at a fraction of the price and it did a beautiful job.

The table need something extra.

I had a dribble of black board paint that had been given to me for a project that I neither started nor finished. I decided that this would be perfect for the central disk in the table.


I can write a little message on the table now.  The question is what should it be??



Be a Blogger for a Day

10 Jan

I am looking for some interesting guest posts that I can publish over the next few weeks.

If you have a thrifty idea that you would like to share, a piece of making that you are proud of,  or a skill you could show in a tutorial stylie, please contact me.

You don’t have to be a blogger. Maybe you want to give blogging a go but aren’t ready to take the plunge. Why not hijack (within reason) mine and see if you like it.

Maybe you decorate cakes, or upcycle, or sew, or maybe you are handy with a jigsaw. Do you have thrifty ideas for entertaining children?

Thrifty gift wrapping, what to make with old coffee tins, handmade cards, jewellery.  You all know you have done something you can share!

The only criteria is that it shouldn’t be too long, no more than 500 words and have 1-5 photos. It needs to have an emphasis on some part of my tag line which is broad enough to cover most areas

If you fancy giving it a whirl please send me a message on my Facebook page,  direct message me on twitter or fill in the contact form and I can send you more details.

I would love to hear from you 🙂  xx

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