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Monthly Archives: March 2012

DUCK! HAT! – an easy craft

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Ramona is going through the obsessed-with-ducks stage. Every morning she wakes up and yells DUCK! as she points to the goose sitting on our wall. Then follows what has become a bit of a morning routine. She grabs my phone and yells DUCK into it, letting me know what she wants.   I then click the voice command button and say “google DUCK ” in the hope my phone will do just that. It always manages to open google but will always search Jack, black or that. We have tried every accent in the book but we can’t get this phone to cooperate.

Yesterday in an attempt to defy it I tried “google GOOSE”- surely it could manage that? There are not too many words that sound like goose? Well, apparently my Android phone didn’t hear GOOSE. It heard PENIS.

Filthy phone.

So, Ramona is all about the ducks. She is also all about hats. It is quite rare for her to be without one, either one of her own woolies, a trendy tilby, or a bike helmet. Sometimes my knickers from the laundry hanger will suffice.

So, in an outpouring of motherly love, yesterday I decided to whip her up a duck hat.

There were lots of existing hats to browse (and pin!) but I chose this tutorial to inform my basic structure. However while I chose to build it with card I then covered it in fabric. I had a lovely vintage curtain which seemed kind of feather like, and then I use off cuts of felted jumpers for the other bits. I machine sewed it together as I felt that would make it quite a bit more robust.

As you can imagine, she adores it. If she finds a mirror while shes wearing it she could happily sit there for several minutes quietly mumbling “duck” over and over.

I’m am linking up with the #pinaddicts challenge again this month. Don’t they roll round quickly? You should definitely go and get some inspiration – this month Louise from Sew Scrumptious is hosting.

Hippyshake

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In some ways I am your typical modern hippy. I am a cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding mama with a nappy free baby, I reckon my parenting probably belongs in a cave with a tribe. I am in love with the earth, trees and flowers and wild swimming and that, and want to live in a way that loves it. Which has kind of meant I have stopped washing my hair and am creating a home out of recycled leftovers. I am addicted to jumble with a stubbornness that means I can’t buy anything new and RELISH revealing my latest thrifted swag. I love to craft; I think making stuff puts you in touch with your soul and generally feel that being eco-thrifty (as opposed to pound shop thrifty) is a beautiful, subversive political act. I have had hate mail, accusing me of communism. I was proud. Like a coming of age.  I am a ranty liberal, bicarbonate of soda loving, organic- obsessed telly-spurning, sometimes a leetle bit too dirty, hippy. (I hope none of this sounds smug? You can’t be smug when confessing to being a bit dirty can you?)

But. Alas.

It’s my eyeballs, you see.

THEY LOVE TO BE PLEASED.

They like style. They enjoy the absurdities of fashion. They want the whole world to look like the Mad Men set. They are 1950’s eyeballs embedded in a 1982 body.

I spend way too long combing my quiff, toying with clothes, admiring interiors. These blinking eyeballs really don’t like earthy. Browns, greens, a hempy vibe just won’t satisfy them.

I really think I COULD live in a yurt, I really do, but only with my Midwinter Crockery and some stylishly framed tea towels.

So, sorry, world. You only get hippy with a twist, a shaky hippy, one prone to wobble when faced with another unnecessary vintage dress.

And unless I cast out these rapscallision eyeballs of mine, it will simply have to do. 

 

My daughter, Ramona, on the other hand, now SHE is The Buisness. Proper bonafide hippy. Check her out in her knitted technicolour dreamcoat.

How hippy are you? Would loooove to hear about your most hippy or most unhippy practices!

PS I am also in the thralls of the internets, way, way, waaaaay to much. Gosh darn you Twitter, tarnishing my hippydom some more.

Avoid porridge – and other Do’s and Don’ts for when your toddler’s in a plaster cast

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Ramona got her cast taken off her broken leg this morning. It couldn’t have been better timing as she has become a total wriggle monster in bed these past two nights. Feet in the face whilst cosleeping is one thing, being biffed in the eye with a whopping cast cladded leg is quite Next Level. So, my bruised brow and I are quite celebratory.  Cue the triumphant trumpet chorus and rara skirted can can girls. (That’s how you celebrate, yeah?) And more importantly, cue the bath. She hasn’t been really clean for the whole month she has had that puppy on.

We have learnt a few things, things which I think may help others who find themselves on the treacherous road littered with broken toddler limbs. Sooo..

DON’T

Apply the law of thrift and create makeshift waterproofing out of bread bags for bath time. We had the cast sopping wet three times then gave up bathing.

Use google to (mis)diagnose chicken pox and then cover child in porridge. No good. Especially when boycotting baths.

Leave the house. Unless you want the all the coals of motherly judgement and disdain heaped upon your head in the playground. (When I told my neighbour, usually the kindest soul in town, she exclaimed “Where WERE you?” as if I had left my darling climbing wheelie bins behind the Peckham Plex. I was toughened to this response by then.)

DO

Buy a waterproof cast, they are not cheap but in hindsight, probably worth it. Someone even tweeted me a link. I mean really, why would you not, you old penny pincher, you.

Keep giving them baths.

Avoid porridge rub downs.

See, haven’t we all learnt alot.

But for real, I did feel this was a bit of a lesson in the resilience of kids. I was SO  devastated when Ramona broke her leg, really, soap opera devastated. Yet she barely batted an eyelid. After 5 days she was crawling, 1 week climbing and after 2 weeks she was walking with the cocky confidence and limpy swagger of every chap round these ways.

Ramona kicking back in the park today with monks and minus cast

It’s a vintage suitcase, er, stuck on the wall, y’know?

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Like most people in the world, I am in love with vintage suitcases. I bought my first one ten years ago and have been stacking them up ever since. I have a pile in New Zealand, in my in-laws attic, and I have, um, a few here.  I tend to see a room as incomplete without one, don’t you?  (Partly because they looks lush, innit. And partly because every room has lots of odds and ends that need storing.)

Sellers have totally started milking this though, at the vintage shop by my work they sell them for £25. Are you crrrrrazy? So when I found a cute little yellow number in our loft stashed up there by the previous owners,  amongst other wonderful treasure like boxes of casette tapes, a car wheel and sacks of nasty Christmas decorations, I was rather thrilled.

You probably know, we are slowly putting together a home here in Camberwell  using other people’s leftovers;  we have kitchen bench tops from skips, cupboards from the side of the road, furniture from charity shops and trinkets from jumble sales.  We are inspired by other recycled homes; we like to see our house as a creative challenge to consumerism. And also we are cheapskates.

So we were never going to go to Ikea when our desire for shelves arose. The other week we bunged a book on the wall as a shelf and were quite delighted with that. Inspired, we screwed the little yellow suitcase up next to it. And I think I love this even more.

Here is the vintage duck I found at last week’s car boot for £1.50. Also in the suitcase is my old art model, from whence I was a child, and a frame I found in a charity shop skip (as in, you know, their discards, not the one where people donate stuff. Yes, I am sure!! Bahaha.) This is some hardcore magpieing, right here!

It can take some weight as we used heavy duty screws. But we only wanted it for aesthetic purposes so as long as it can hold a frame and some scrumpcious ornamentals, I am happy!

Linking up with Liz and the marvelous Magpies over at Me and My Shadow. Me and My Shadow

Browse some of my  other thrifty home decor ideas here and please tell me about yours!

Charity Shopping in London: three spots for making a day of it

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If you are stuck for something to do this weekend and love a good thrift check out my three top spots for making a day of your charity shopping. These aren’t necessarily the VERY BEST shops (another post in the pipeline) but these are my favourite because they are either part of a route of charity shops or close by to some other fantastic activities. I have gone the extra mile for you, beloved reader, and have created some google maps. No one likes traipsing around with only the rumour of a vintage palace spurring you on.

Pimilico Charity Shop Circuit
Pimlico – such an easy area to get to, just a five minute walk south of Victoria. I know this circuit like the back of my hand- I get to do the rounds at least once a week on a lunch break. What a treat!

There are EIGHT, yes, EIGHT, shops in this tiny circuit. Fara really rule the roost here with Fara Retromania (with a fun £5 rail outside), a normal shop and a Fara Kids. The Oxfam shop is excellent for shoes, and smart clothing. The Sue Ryder is a fairly cheap one, the Trinity Hospice is great for fabric ends and wool, the Fara Kids has brilliant -if pricey- stylish kids clothes (but jawdropping sales.) I have bought lots of lovely items from the normal Fara and a few crazy bits and bobs from Retromania. I have worked in this patch for FIVE YEARS and it was only last summer that I found out about a sneaky little shop hiding one block back, where I have since found some beautiful jewelry. I felt so ripped off, imagining five years worth of bargains I had missed out on!
Here is the public Google Map of the Pimlico circuit for you.
It is easy to make a day of it by having a delicious lunch at the market by Fara Kids and then a wander a bit further down towards the Thames to Tate Britain, where they have a spectacular crafty kids corner.

Blackheath
There are only two shops here but I count this as one of my favourite areas as thrifting fits so easily into a wonderful fun day. There is an Oxfam here and a Cancer Research, both of which can be a tiny bit more expensive (average £7 trousers/ £4 top) but the quality tends to be quite high. We will often train into Blackheath, hop the shops, grab a delicious lunch at one of the delis, then wander over the Heath via the icecream van, into the wonders of Greenwhich park and down to the antique markets. This is a whole Saturday with something for every member of the family. I have highlighted the shops on the map here.

Central London
This is not a route for the faint of heart but for the stoic bargain hunter wearing hiking boots. But I guarantee you will find some swag! Begin at Goodge Street, there is a wonderful Oxfam where I never fail to buy something (often brand new stuff), a Sue Ryder and a Notting Hill (both of which are good for a browse but can be quite dear- average £8 trousers, £5-6 top). There is also a high end vintage shop on the other side of the road.

Head south west down to Oxford Circus stopping at the Salvation Army on Princes Street. It is worth the diversion this is quite a massive shop and they often have brand new designer items, alongside average shoddy (but cheap!) gear. They often have very glamorous shoes and boutique dresses. Whatever you do though, DON’T USE THE CHANGING ROOM WITHOUT ASKING. You will be embarrassed if they catch you (!!!)

If you still have wind in your sails, grab some lunch and keep heading west, but back North a little to Marylebone. This is a little area jampacked with charity shops. They are filled with designer goods and the prices do reflect this but if you are looking for some good quality shizzle, Marlybone has your name on it. It is also full of lovely little independent shops and is right on the edge of glorious Regent’s Park where you can catch some music in the bandstand, or collapse under a tree with your bags of bargains!

Check out the route here and PLEASE add more if I have missed any gems!

What do you reckon- have you visited these patches? Have you got a favourite circuit you do or a place you could wile away a whole day?

PS: If you like my thrifty ways, would you be able to nominate me in the THRIFTY category of the MAD blog awards? Love you forevs 🙂

Nursing a micromachine: breastfeeding at 16 months

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As winter turns to spring, and spring turns to summer, I realise I am in my second cycle of seasons nursing Ramona. You know how you don’t really massively plan to breastfeed a toddler, and then all of a sudden you look down one day and you’re like “LOOK AT THE GIANT BABY! I AM BREASTFEEDING A TODDLER!!!”

I really love it though.

  • Coming home from work and spending the first half an hour snuggled up on the sofa while she nurses and Tim tells me what they have been up to. Ramona occasionally pauses to shout “DUCK!” or “HAT”  and her other favourite words, and Tim confirms, yes, they did feed the ducks, they did wear their hats. But he can never confirm the presense of Gok Wan.
  • Ramona has me sharing my breast milk with her Iggle Piggle, her tiny cat, her micro machine. I like her generous spirit.
  • I go to work two and a half days a week while Ramona hangs with Tim. I have been so surprised at how both Ramona and my supply hasn’t been impacted at all. When I am home Ramona nurses 5 or 6 times but doesn’t seem bothered when she can’t even come and meet me on my lunch break. My boobs have coped splendidly too, maybe just looking a touch Dolly Parton-y towards the end of the day. I have also had to work a few late nights and Ramona just drifts off to sleep with a book read by Tim. Another myth busted- if you nurse to sleep you won’t be locked in to nursing your 9 year old!
  • Ramona has the sign language for milk down. We haven’t been very committed to baby sign, but she has picked up and run with a handful of them. Her having the milk sign is so brilliant- it has replaced her frantically climbing up and sticking her whole head down my neckline. Although I wish the sign was different – it is way too reminiscent of milking a cow, or a dirty boozy man air groping.
  • Something about nursing a baby beyond the normal time frame bizarrely means you aren’t in the running for conversations about breast vs bottle, demand vs routine. Of course, I am ALL FOR breastfeeding on demand and do feel that we have societal issues with sexualising breasts but I really dislike the implicit judgement that is felt by mothers on either side of the decision. (I truly do reckon that every mother wakes up in the morning wanting to do their very best for their little one.) It is a shame as I could talk all day long about breastfeeding but it doesn’t tend to happen to me anymore.
  • Although I have been stopped on the bus a couple of times by people exclaiming WELL DONE! For the most part I have been genuinely shocked by the general lack of interest by members of the public. Particularly after some early encounters with rapscallion teens. Have you found it this way? Part of me wonders if there is an element of confidence breeding normality- does that fact that I don’t even think twice when I nurse Ramona come across? That people who thought this was mad suddenly go “Ooh, I thought that was mad but this lady here doesn’t seem bothered by it, maybe everyone does it these days?” And then it becomes the new normal?!

I am currently blogging this on a quick late lunchbreak. My boss’s boss just came over and chatted to me, I quickly tried to shut my screen with it’s huge title in bold but it didn’t shut and now he thinks I spend all day blogging about breasts ARGGGHHHHHH.

I. Am. So. Embarrassed. I have to go now and die under my desk.

The motherload

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I may have had the most perfect Mother’s Day had by any mother in the history of motherhood and Hallmark.

Traditional
It started off in an unassumingly beautiful way- a card from my little Ramona and a house filled with flowers. My husband had put 150 daffs in jars and vases; sunshine yellow spilling onto every surface.  Fried eggs and mushrooms on toast for breakfast, proper coffee. How lucky am I, to have such a family.

Not so traditional
Then Ramona and I dashed off to Parliament Square for a quick protest. My heart drops into my guts when I think about what this government is trying to do to the NHS. Our imperfect free healthcare, the envy of nations, being dismantled before our eyes. How fitting to spend a portion of Mothers Day, my daughter and her broken leg, joining with some others, trying to save it. (You can too, with a click.)

A new tradition
The day only half over we still had time to race over the hill to the new Car Boot Sale in Dulwich. It is being run by the organisers of Rotherhithe and it hasn’t quite taken off, but my stars, I hope it does. It is only a 20 minute walk away from home and despite there only be a few stalls left I got some serious loot.

We bumped into a bundle of friends on the way so we were all able to have a good chuckle at the old duck who insisted Every. Single. Item on her stall was a collectible. We chortled all the way to the ice cream parlour. A huge cheer for bumping into people and having ad hoc boot fair visits and out of the blue ice cream on freezing days.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you…. the motherload:

This little procelain flower is a broach the size of my thumb, it was 50p.

This little dove is a Pomander- stuffed with dried flowers and meant to help your knicker draw smell swanky- from a ceramics place in Torquay.

This is Owl, Dove’s mate, bit of a seedy one. They used to hang about in rough corners of Cornwall, getting high on dried flowers, until Owl’s wink got him more than he bargained for.

These guys were 20p each- quite a bit less then these very things are selling in vintage shops online for at the mo.

I couldn’t hide my squeal of delight when I saw these two tiny wind up music boxes and the lady fittingly hiked up the price to £2 each. By that stage I already had a little haul from her that I’d paid for pennies for so I really didn’t mind.

We have now entered the land of serious money. £1.5o I paid for this old goose (£1.50 AM I MAD) but he just had such a cute little vintage look about him – and he is afterall, a collectible.

Now Tim is all “What are you gonna do with the wooden goose, Lu?” What am I gonna do with the wooden goose, HUH? What do you think I’m gonna do with the wooden goose, TIM????

 

 

(Yeah. Dunno.)

 

 

Got a few more trinkets but I bet your bored, I’ll save ’em for another time.

Think we now have a new Mother’s Day tradition.

WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Linking up with Lizzie’s Magpie’s on Monday and Apron Thrift Girl’s Thrift Sharers. Tootle on over to them for more eye poppingly bargainous stuff.

Delicious body scrub in a fancy jar – a Mothers Day craft

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I am absolutely rubbish at Mo Day usually but my New Year’s Resolution was to do something for people on their birthdays and special days. This Sunday it is my mum’s turn, the lucky devil.

I love giving gifts in pretty jars, the dual element of something cool inside but then a craftivised jar mean the receiver gets something immediately and more long term.  This time mum gets some delicious home made body scrub (it feels sooooo good on your skin, and only 3 ingredients!)  in a rose lidded jar.

Obviously, it took just absolutely days and days and days of really hard work, also, it cost LOADS of money, like, literally, gosh, probably should have just sent her to a spa in France for a week.

Yeah, well, that’s the end of this post. Yep. BYEEEE!

PSSSSST. Are you still here? That’ll be mum fooled. MWAHAHA. For real, this scrub is SO EASY! AND CHEEEEEAP!!!! HAHA! The lid, probably took  10 minutes, the scrub about 2. I reckon it cost me about £1 to make. Here’s how:

Coconut and mint Body Scrub:

1  cup salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (I buy mine from the local Nigerian shop for £3 huge jar)
Few drops peppermint oil (you can leave this out/replace with some other nice smell)

Allow the coconut oil to soften in a warm place. Let it cool but not set again and stir in the salt and peppermint. Spoon into your jar!

And for the lid….

The paper was some beautiful rose paper the Red Cross sent me as part of a stationary set. Who knows why? But I have crafted the hell out of it so I am muchly indebted to that life saving emergency organisation.

I actually also did a layer of crystal resin over the top of the lid, as a bit of waterproofing as I imagined the jar sitting in the corner of a damp shower. I have only used resin once on my bottle top magnets but I am a big fan, worth having some in your craft cupboard for this kind of thing.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

The Politics of Thrift

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Sometimes after being stuck in a jumper that smells of jumble all day because the initial wash failed to plumb the depths of the ancient fibres I like to climb up onto my moral mountain and let my mind rest upon the bigger picture of thrift.

Of course, I am addicted to charity shopping and car boot sales, I find huuuuuge joy in discovering unsung teacups going for a song and finding tossed out fabrics fit for a king. I take pleasure in finding a new purpose for my odd ends, or sewing a bit to a bob to meet a need.  It isn’t a chore, I don’t do it for The World or to fit in our budget.

But there is more going on, an activist undercurrent to all these thrifty antics.

Thrifting flips new The Bird.
I used to live in Oxford Circus in a big old house with a bunch of people, it was fun, I loved it. But when I moved to Camberwell, just a few miles south, we felt a huge relief from aggressive advertising campaigns. Everywhere you turn up in central London there is a monster poster revealing the latest new thing we require. Shiny things to boost our low self esteem, to show our individuality, to highlight our status (just the men)/beauty (the ladies, of course), because we deserve it.

When we get thrifty we reject the myth that NEW makes us. We hold on to our innate precious sense of identity, remain confident in choices, revel in relationship and community, understand that we exist to love and be loved, not to consume. (Or it is at least an attempt to hold on/ remain/revel/understand.)

People not corporations
Thrift places power into the hands of the homemaker, the discoverer, the determined. Thrifters make decisions that follow their gut or needs, not to benefit the profit margins of manipulative corporations. The pennies we have dished out for our magical junk will go in to pockets of enterprising parents at the car boot, or excellent charities (even better.) We are consciously stepping out of the consumption rat race, throwing a gloriously rusty spanner in the works- jarring the demand for unethically made goods and the tyrants that build empires from them.

Thrifty gets you crafting and there is power in making
In my stubbornness not to buy new things I do end up with some bizarre  mashups – slippers out of armpits, a book for a shelf. Thriftiness fuels creativity, it lends itself to making. I have written about the power of making before. I am certain that making puts you in touch with your soul, it is like scratching an itch, or filling a hole. When we Make do and Mend we feel like a million bucks, able to take on those big bad corporations, to survive and thrive without their help, thanks very much.

                                         ***************

Have you seen the Story of Stuff? No???? Oh. My. Days. It is completely brilliant, you will not even notice 20 minutes of your life have just whizzed by. It pulls together all the strands of, like, stuff and things.

 

 

PS- I think there are other nuances that I haven’t gone into – like thriftiness and class, or how being thrifty can almost be a luxury as it kind of requires you to be time rich? These are maybe to explore another day…

PPS- As ever, would love to know your thoughts. Do you see your thrifty self as an Op Shop activist? Would you like to be thriftier?

The Sickness and Sympathy Pains

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Beware all who travel these parts, behold the red cross upon our door. Do not enter here. We have The Sickness. The red spotty, itchy very contagious one currently doing the rounds and otherwise known as Poxy Chickens. Well, officially only one of us has it and unfortunately it’s little Ramona, with one limb in a plaster cast. Ramona is coping brilliantly, a constant sunbeam. (Well, apart from yesterday morning when I took Dr Google’s advice and decided an oatmeal bath was in order. But instead of a bath (due to non waterproof cast) more an oatmeal wipe down. Which basically involved Tim and I covering the little darling head to toe in porridge. Ramona was not a fan.)

While Ramona is being stoic, Tim and I are not. We have a Sympathy Sickness. I have come out in itchy spots, dizziness, pins and needles, aches and shakes, fever and Tim has come down with a severe form of that unmentionable condition effecting ones bowels.

Ever since Ramona was born I have seen her as a little part of me, it has always come as a shock when she flashes such independence as she does, but this, THIS, is ridiculous. As if my body refuses to believe we are different entitities or if out of some deep sense of responsibility my body wants to share her pain. IT’S OKAY BODY, SERIOUSLY, IT’S BETTER FOR ALL INVOLVED IF WE KEEP IT TOGETHER.

So, here we are, all three of us, moping around the house, opening the fridge, shutting the fridge empty handed, trying to nap, going to the loo, moping, watching Sesame Street.

If only we were as tough as Ramona.

Not impressed, mum. NOT IMPRESSED.

PS: Britmums have some blogging awards happening at the mo and if you enjoy reading this mix of parenting/ crafting/ thrifting, or if I have inspired you to get thriftier or greener, I would LOVE you to nominate Lulastic and the Hippyshake! It closes in TWO DAYS though (EEK) but it is quite easy to nominate, and you can chose from a few categories. *awkward smile*