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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Vintage Spoons Hanging Hooks

Cor, don’t you just LOVE a nice souvenir spoon?! When I saw these in a New Zealand charity shop for 50 cents I snapped them up. They just totally evoke a colonial inspired 1980’s afternoon tea vibe, eh?

I have had them rattling around with a faint idea of using them for something but then when a need arose for a place to hang our tea towels I just KNEW. Just knew. These spoons were always meant for greater things than stirring sugar lumps.

Here it is, another 5 min recycling crafty frolick:

I found this bit of wood on the pavement once and have had it randomly on display. I love the imprint of VB ENGLAND along it. It is a bit rugged but I thought it would help my spoons to sparkle.

Linking up with the ever brilliant Magpie Monday of course!

One broken little leg

I looked up just in time to see her fall from the window ledge, straight as an arrow to land on her feet, to watch her crumble into a ball. I was close enough to scoop her up just in time to get the gale force scream of pain, to register how much more primal this scream sounded, how much more panicked her scrabbling feet against my stomach were. I was quick but not quite quick enough.

She was still crying after 20 minutes, I hoped she was just tired. After  a quick snooze she was still crying but this time it was obvious she didn’t want to stand up. We thought we had better take her to the A and E, just to be safe. It would of course be nothing, just tiredness, a bit of a shock. It had only been a small fall, half a metre, she’s always climbing, and always falling.

Goodness, this optimism of mine can get a bit ridiculous sometimes.

Even as I sit here writing, my girl fast asleep, her little broken leg in a tiny cast, my brain is still piping up “It is only a fracture, just a toddler break, they happen aallll the time” as if I’ve ever seen a tiny kid in plaster. As if broken toddler bones are as common as nits.

It was one climb too many after a tiring playful day, a window ledge too tempting a challenge, a bit of kids furniture too wonky, a fall too awkward, a tibia bone too supple. As I lay in bed last night after her midnight cast, grabbing at puffs of sleep that teased me with their coming and going my mind was on loop, replaying the child size electric piano lurch from under her feet, my heart lurching with it.

But it was only when the Doctor at the Fracture Clinic this morning said “six to eight weeks recovery” that a tear escaped. But this little one! This funny little one with her running! Her dancing! Her climbing!

She climbs all day. I’ll come in the room to find her on top of a chair, her hands in the air, face to the ceiling, as if worshipping the lightshade. She takes on the ladders in the playground with fierce determination. Tables, drawers, toys, gates, bins, walls; all are just challenges to ascend.

I’ve never hovered, always certain that she’ll be fine. They know their limits (and she will be limitless!) and they are robust little rascals (pity that tibia didn’t get the robust memo.)

Gosh, as she pats her cast and looks at me in anguish, I regret this attitude. I should have been hovering!!!! (Shouldn’t I?)

Not letting her climb, of all things, while helping her big cousins put on a Show. (It was going to be a Spectacular Show too, with jumpings and heroes and flying boys.)

To think I was there, a metre away. But not quite there enough.

The thriftiness of organisation

“If a cluttered desk is sign of a cluttered mind, what, then, is an EMPTY desk sign of?”

Eh, eh?! An EMPTY MIND! HA!

And thus I stay happily contended in my disarray.

But you know what? There is something particularly unthrifty and complicated  about mess. Having to buy more balloons simply because you can’t find your existing 5 million. Spending 6 minutes every morning foraging for bobby pins to hold your quiff together.

Inspired by the spectacular Thrifty Mrs I have begun organising my shiz. GASP! I know. It is a massive turn around for me but I have to say it is working a treat.

I began with my bedroom sideboard. It is the place where EVERYTHING ends up.  Surplus crockery, tools, make up, pants, coins and pens.

A Thrifty Mrs explains the importance of having your every day things accesible and your rarer things tucked away.

Taking this principle I found a better place for the pens (er, the desk drawer?) and the coins. I got rid of makeup I will never touch and divided up make up, jewelry and hair stuff into seperate tins.

In two tea cups I placed the bobby pins and hair clips and earrings I wear most days, and in my box I placed bigger things I need every day like deodrant and my hair brush.

I realise probably none of you struggle with mess like this (and I am even a bit embarrased blogging my mess) but I am  pretty stoked with this new organisation marlarky. I feel quite evangelical about it (hence the blog!) And flipping heck the THINGS I will achieve with my extra six minutes a day. I’ll probably end up as the Prime Minister after this.

On not washing one’s hair

I am considering myself halfway through an experiment in not washing my hair. I am so committed to this experiment that at the weekend I even attended a wedding with my 7 week non-washed mane.  If the experiment goes well then it will become life but at the moment it isn’t looking likely.

Let me review the benefits I have experienced of not washing my hair:

1- it is really thick and volumous, the kind of hair I usually would get after blowdrying, hairspraying, dry shampooing and backcombing. It is nice having voluptuous locks after a lifetime of skinny ones.

2- I feel quite pleased with myself, all eco and green and smug.

Ummm.

That’s it. Yeah.

It isn’t going superbly.

You see if I could just do the bicarbonate of soda and cider vinegar wash then I would be SOLD. After washing with those my hair is brilliant; thick, glossy, clean.

But the thing is it also strips out my hair colour and I’m not having that. Last year I discovered I was a redhead in a mousy blonde body and have henna’d my hair every 2 months in order to embrace my ginger soul. If I do a bicarbonate of soda wash I will then have to henna as much as every couple of weeks too and, honestly? Who could be bothered with that?

The experiment has made me think differently about “clean hair”, after a water wash I know my hair isn’t dirty but just filled with natural oils. To me now normal hair does look a bit dry and dusty. A bit of slick seems pretty standard. One day last week I was basking in my natural oils and eco smugness when my mum turned to me and said “It looks like you’ve dipped your hair in a chip pan”. Turns out natural oils look a lot like grease, eh?

So. I have had lots of scarf days while I trial different methods;  hot water, brushing like mad, a henna rinse. I haven’t nailed it yet but have a couple more ideas under my belt.

Cor, mum, your hair smells filthy

I have never thought so much about my hair and it is DOING MY HEAD IN. Part of my motivation in weaning off shampoo was to simplify my life and the things I am dependent on. Ridiculously, this experiment is consuming me!

However, I still have this motivation and hope that over the next few weeks I will somehow nail it. Watch this space!

Update: HOLD THE PHONE! Don’t worry everyone, WET LOOK IS IN!!!!!!!

Activist mummy

I have been blathering on about crafty shenanigans and vintage hauls for quite a few posts now. I would absolutely forgive you for thinking that I have forgotten that there are many ways to make the world a more beautiful place.

I get a feeling that when I post about political/socioeconomic/protest stuff readers roll their eyes and think “DULLLLLL”. They tend to be my least read and least commented posts. Is it because it is alienating? Or lacking creativity? Or bereft of cute Ramona photos and stories?

She lost a pompom. A pom?

Who knows. Let me try and remedy this by ticking ALL those boxes. Wish me luck!

This morning I woke up pretty stoked. We have had a brilliant few days having a sort out and beautifying our home with a few licks of paint (tick) and finally getting some of our lovely secondhand goodies on display (tick!) Ramona and I have been having so much fun chilling out together recently, her talking her little head off (it seems she tends to mostly talk about Gok Wan) me showing off all my moves as we crank the music and have dance parties, as we chase each other for HOURS around the living room, ending up rolling around in stitches.

The faces she pulls!

But as I tuned in to Twitter to find my timeline filled with the latest info on the UK’s corporate slave trade (Workfare in government lingo) and a link to a Suzanne Moore article about demonising poor people I became ANGRY. Like sweary angry.  Stomach crunchingly, teeth clenchingly mad.

What sort of a world are we putting up with? How can we be okay with increasing numbers of our neighbours being pushed further into poverty? Why is our government getting away with policies that consistently discriminate against vulnerable people? What am I going to do about it?

It has never been more easy for me to ignore these questions, to pat them down and say “Sit! … Stay..Stay” as if they are some persistent Jack Russel trying to get attention.  Being a mother is BUSY! It is physically exhausting all this running up and down the stairs, crawling around with a toddler clinging on, throwing a giggler into the air. But it is also meaningful. It is a wonderful and satisfying thing loving a new little person. It gives me a contentedness that makes my striving for other goodness in the world fade away just a little bit.

The truth is I do feel like being a loving parent is enough. I believe that children who have strong attachments and are loved and loved and loved are going to be the people who pour out more love later. By loving we create lovers. And the world definitely needs more lovers. We need lovers to run our countries, the IMF, the ECB. Lovers to paint and build. To organise our banks, to teach, and police the streets.

But still…

I do want Ramona to see me getting angry with the unfair status quo. I do want her to feel that individuals can be powerful, that action can change things. That letter writing, marching and tweeting can create a new mandate and a new story for our world.

I think I need to work on that balance, to make sure motherhood doesn’t ever blinker me to the reality of injustice and the power of fighting it.  Thank goodness for Twitter, where in those few chilled out moments as she drifts off to sleep I can get a little bit furious AND do something about it.

DIY Parasol light installation thingy

Thanks to your creative brainstorming over my vintage parasols I have a delightful new addition to the spare room. A kind of lampy, fairy lit, parasol installation hanging from the corner of the ceiling.  The photos don’t quite do it justice, it looks a lot more ethereal in real life!

It was so easy to do, literally took about ten minutes. I screwed a hook into the ceiling and tied the parasol onto it. I then gaffa taped some fairy lights to the stem of the parasol (taking care to make sure no bulbs touch the paper). The only tricky bit was reaching up behind it to hang it and get busy with the gaffa.

The large mirror on the wall disguises the wire.

I love it even if it does have a bit of a breasty look about it.

Tim is going to despair when he sees I have created another lamp thing. They are just so cosy and add such ambiance, oui?

It’s been framed: thrifty home decor

My tea towel. I love it. I bought it in a Faversham charity shop for 50p and knew instantly that it’s destiny had changed. It was not going to end up drying soapy water off Nutella jars disguised as cups. It would be art. Hung with great joy upon our kitchen wall.

I bought the frame for £12 from another charity shop (ripped off I know, it is just an Ikea one) and painted it white. It now sits on our brick wall and adds a massive oomph of Old Skool England into our rather Frenchy kitchen.

There is a thrifty principle here. (Although you have clearly realised this is just an excuse to show off my tea towel.) If you see something pretty and it is kind of flat- frame it! Prints are expensive, framed prints even more so, we have only TWO actual arty prints in our whole house, but our shelves and walls are filled with nice bits and bobs stuffed into frames. Here are some things I’ve framed.

Photos (hahahahahahaha, just kidding)

Record Sleeves

Buttons

Wrapping paper (Map prints/ London underground prints)

The graphic from a reusable bag (the bird – a native NZ Tui – here)

A swatch of fabric

Obviously some of these things are more to provide background depth to a collection of things you have on a shelf (like the fabric) and others are more to be a central piece on your wall.

Just for example, a retro tea towel would work quite well:

Keep your eyes peeled for anything lovely that captures you, and always buy good frames if you see them in charity shops. Especially big ones as they are hard to come by. I nearly always end up giving my frames a lick of paint. White frames can be overdone these days but sometimes a white frame just provides an unobtrusive way to show off your goods.

This tea towel is so old it is Made in the UK – when did we last have a tea towel industry here?!

Done anything thrifty lately? Why not get on board with #ThriftyThursday! Or tell me about it in the comments box…

You can stand under my parasol…

(it only smells a tiny little bit like old smoke.)

I have had a long term fondness for parasols – their whimsical print and fragility make me come over all Victorian escapist. I had a lovely ancient blue one when we first got married, but it was one of the first things to be crushed under the almighty clumsical power found in the union of two of the world’s most blundering people. When I found a similar one in a caramel colour and much larger for a mere £3 I snapped it up (and have already put a leeetle hole through it’s papery shell.)

And at a car boot sale in Kent I came across another, this time created with a hardy fabric, a jolly yellow hue and a burlesquey fringe. It was £5 and with that I got whole room full of old lady cigar smell thrown in for free.

My knowledgeable expertise (by knowledgeable expertise I mean google) tells me they are probably mid centuryish.
But you do tend to spot them quite commonly, and they go for a song on Ebay. I think it is because no one knows what to DO with them, least of all me. What do I DO with them?

They are like peacocks – fantastical and dazzling when they are open, but too bloody big to fit anywhere. When they are shut they are neat and tidy but look about as thrilling as a wooden spoon.

Although because they are so cheap I could start collecting them and then move into a house with a very tall ceiling and then hang them all upside down to create a kind of canopy of papery, fringey, oriental print dreaminess……..

I am sure you know of a way to display these beauts in the meantime? Anyone pinned any parasolled up rooms lately?

Linking up with a whole load of snazzy old treasure through Liz’s Magpie Monday and Apron Thrift Girl’s ThriftShare Monday (go check out her magnificant lamps.)

Cosleeping Practicalities

Co Co Co Cooooosleeping (To the tune of Sh Sh Sh Shoooooe people. Literally though, how amazing was that programme?) (ARRGH IT’S ON YOUTUBE! BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!)

I have posted recently about our experience of cosleeping; some of the pros and cons , wondering about the fear that drives some people away from it. Whenever we mention cosleeping we are often met with a barrage of questions about the practicalities around it. So I wanted to cover some of those a bit.

Where?
We have a maHUsive bed, like a triple x, super who-ate-all-the pies-king, which we rescued one time. It has saved the night. We can all fit in there with loads of space. However the three of us inevitably end up all squished up at one end. Ramona and I just like snuggling up with Tim. Tim isn’t such a fan.

Ramona tends to sleep in the middle apart from when she nurses all night and then I need to switcheroo. So she is closer to the edge, but she’s only ever fallen out a few times. (Haha, kidding.) (Kind of.)

Naps
Until Ramona was about 9 months old she used to take all her sleep on me, either in a sling or snuggled up in bed. This meant that I spent a lot of time in bed. (Incidentally it is why I restarted my blog as I wanted to contribute online rather than just speculate – and I was doing a lot of horizontal speculating.) It was totes delicious, napping with her, going to bed at 8pm.  At 9 months though we got an amazing baby monitor and now I let her sleep in the bed by herself (after nursing to sleep)  and just dash in if she wakes up.

I had read somewhere during pregnancy that the first year of a baby’s life should be seen as “out of the womb gestation” –  it really resonated with me. In hindsight it is very much a long the lines of the lovely Continuum Parenting concept. Also,  I want her to have completely positive sleep associations and hope that having someone close by during sleep can nurture this security.

Nappy Free
At the moment we put a washable nappy on Ramona at night time. She is dry all night (since she was about 6 months old – I don’t know if this is that common or just for nappyfree babes?) but every so often will do an early morning wee, say at 6am, and even though I can sense her needing to go (squirming etc)  I don’t want to potty her then as she’ll be up for the day.  She is getting less happy with the night time nappy though – she pulled it completely off tonight- so I have ordered a washable bed pad so that we can give the night time nappy the heave ho and  if that cheeky wee comes in the morning it is no biggy.

Business Socks
You just have to be creative with rooms, furniture etc.

(Sorry, I know that isn’t a very exhaustive answer but my granddad does know how to use Tinternet and I can not guarantee that he doesn’t read this.)

Bedding
We don’t have anything extra for Ramona she has always just slept on our mattress with our duvet on top, although when she was a tiny pip squeak she slept either prone or in the crook of my arm. She doesn’t sleep on a pillow as she nurses all night (did I mention that?)  so just faces my weary but succulent mammary glands.

Nursing
I wear a scoop neck tee shirt with one of Tim’s tee shirts over the top. Tim’s tee is usually bunched up but my own tee stops my torso getting chills. I wear a scoop neck so Ramona has easy access but one of Tim’s tees from that day with the idea that she can’t smell my milk so easily and be less nursey. It doesn’t really work but I guess I am superstitious about it now. (Do you get a bit like that?)

Cosleeping does encourage more nursing I think, which on one hand is good – with me being at work half the week her nursing at night keeps my supply up and means she is getting everything she needs for this growth spurt. (That is what I am telling myself the 6-10 night suckles are.) But on the other hand is bloody knackering isn’t it! I can handle anything between 1-5 without really noticing. But more than that and I get a little cranky. *climbs the walls*

Time for my Parenting Moto of the Year (sung Harry Hills styles) :

This Too Shall Pass!

Waking each other up
This does happen. Overall it has been found that cosleeping mothers get more sleep – primarily because we don’t have to get out of bed – but three in a bed isn’t the deepest sleep to be had. If one of us has a rough night than we all seem to. Sometimes it seems Ramona wakes at the slightest peep (me turning a page of my book – headlamp on!) or sleeps through the biggest ruckus – lights blazing, full on conversation between Tim and I.

We don’t fall into bed and stay fast asleep for ten hours like we used to. But, do you know what? It just isn’t a big deal. Letting go of my sleep obsession and embracing night time parenting helps me just feel totally at peace with this whole situation. (Just wish my nipples would agree, eek.)

Bottletop Magnets – a quick craft

Posted on

A friend sent me some gorgeous magnets a few months ago and I instantly thought “Ooh, making these would be super easy.” (This is a pretty standard reaction from me- I have an engorged sense of self efficacy when it comes to art and craft – I’ll look at a Henry Moore sculpture and say “Baah, give me half an hour and a couple a quid and I’ll carve me own.”)

I forgot about the magnets until I saw a picture of some similar ones and Pinned them (Mum, it’s this new internet thing called Pinterest) onto my “Going to make” board. And you know what? I only went and did it.

I am a massive fan of varnishing things – it gives crafted things their mojo– but I have to say, RESIN is now where it is AT. It is the new varnish. (Which was the new laminating machine – remember those days of laminating everything?) It is like a beautiful, thick, non yellowing varnish.

These magnets were incredibly easy to make and gives me another way to use up all the tiny little images I find in vintage books and mags and things.

I am really happy with them although next time I make them I will be a little less stingy with the resin and fill them right up to the edge. I think my favourite is the cowboy on the polkda dots, or the super simple swallow, or the circus monkey saying HOORAY.

Linking up with the Pinaddicts Challenge – the awesome idea of each month taking one thing you have fallen in love with on Pinterest and whipping it up.  Are you a Pinterest fan? You should tooootally get involved 🙂