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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Charity Shops in Streatham and the Charity Shop Blog Hop

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When I was younger Streatham was known for only one thing; its gargantuan and spectacular ice rink.  We would put on our cool bomber jackets, exchange our best crepes (yoof speak for shoes, mum)  for some skanky boots and skate the day away to the winsome harmonies of BoyzIIMen.

Now though, memories of skating in Streatham are being squeezed out by the minutes spent gallivanting around the charity shops.

I am a charity shop ADDICT. I start going through withdrawal if I don’t go for a week (symptoms include pottering around my friend’s homes, picking things up from their shelves with an inquiring gaze.)  I like that it is a kind of shopping that requires imagination and vision (my husband didn’t have that vision when I showed him a little packet of retro Christmas candles this evening) and that it builds patience as you dedicatedly wait until you come across the item you hope for.

So Streatham REALLY floats my boat. It must have the most number of charity shops per sq mile then any other area in London. In the one mile walk from Streatham Hill along Streatham High Road to Streatham Station there are TWELVE  of ’em and two junk/antique shops. Never has a road so aptly been nicknamed (er, by me and Tim) The Golden Mile.

Here is the run down but also check out the google map where I’ve  handily plotted them for you!

Give a Little

Begin at the top with Give a Little at 77 Streatham Hill- just opposite the Mega Bowl. Bursting at the seams with clothes and trinkets, both up and downstairs. Clothes tend to be on the steeper side – £7-8 for skirts  but all good quality. The bric-a-brac is fairly priced, nice mugs for £1.

Trinity Hospice Shop
Stay on the same side of the road for this sprawling jumble sale kind of a shop,  chocka block with quirky things and people. I love the kids clothes section- literally a tiny mountain of garments that you bury your nose into – three for £1.

PAWS
A little shop that involves popping off the main street a few metres, but well worth browsing as the prices for things vary wildly.

Relief Fund for Romania
Carry back down the main road for a while until you come across the little yellow sign pointing you up to the left. This one has £1 rails- hurrah! Sometimes when you need jumpers for craft projects you really don’t want to spend more than £1 but these rails are so rare.

British Red Cross Books and Music
Cross over the road for the next two. A huge selection here, carefully laid out. In specific Books and Music shops I find you don’t get the bargains you might in another shop but you are paying for a higher chance of finding something ace, aren’t you?

Trinity Hospice
This Trinity Hospice Shop  is as sparse as the first is sprawling. But they have selected the choiciest cuts, and there are some creative little crannies. (Doe we say crannies?)

Oxfam
Nip back over the road for this new, massive Oxfam – this one is the Ikea of chazza shops. Clean, spacious, affordable and air conditioned! Primarily for furniture and bric a brac, they have some gorgeous things in there. Our sofa hails from here, this massive, bed like thing and it was only £30.

Oxfam
Amazing shoes and clothes- I snapped up a pair of Reef flip flops from there today for £3.99, they kinda, mostly fit me, even though they say a size 10 and I’m a size 6. Just a few inches sticking out the back. I wonder if I can snip that off…

Cancer Research
They have the longest rail for dresses ever seen (each one around the £5 mark) and the BEST tunes. One of my favourite things about charity shopping is the eclectic music and how it is perfectly acceptable to singalong. (No?)

British Red Cross
Huge selection of clothes and lovely crockery. They always seems to have some nice retro bits in here too.

Working for Charity
Tiny shop with a small selection of things. The things were LOVELY but, dare I say it, a bit overpriced. I saw this tea set and thought “OOf, I’d stretch to £15 for that” as it was so beautiful. Turns out they wanted £58. Yep. £58.

What the?

The ongoing charity shop pricing dillema. See, on one hand I agree that they have a responsibility to their charity to get as much as they can for an item. On the other hand, I feel like they play an important redistribution role too – making beautiful and good things affordable for those less well off.

Shelter
This is quite a new shop and  swanky with it.  It’s a Next Generation charity shop – making charity shopping more clean and appealing to the masses. (However, personally? Give me a rumble in the manky old jumble anyday.)

There it is,  The Golden Mile – for some of the best charity shopping in London. The prices reflect those of other Capital charity shops – no 50p china plates here- but for sheer volume and overall thriftiness Streatham is Where It Is At.

Having a little one, I have to plan my charity shop traipsing carefully- ensuring Ramona gets a chance to run wild either before or after. Being a scorching day we trundled round the corner to Tooting Bec Lido, this fabulous old school pool, where we bumped into a wonderful friend, scoffed ice cream and splashed our merry wee hearts out. Heaven.

And Now, Roll Up, Roll Up-  Time for the Charity Shop Blog Hop!

I am well excited about reading everyone’s write ups- be it local or exotic.

Please link back here (with the image if poss) and visit all the other linker-upperers to share a comment– hopefully you’ll find even more charity shop lovers than you knew of.  Hurraahhh!

Just click below where the links (and photos) will be displayed in all their glory…


 

And finally, if you are on Twitter use the hashtag #charityhop (see what I did there?)

Punk Lamp: Upcycling with old zips

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A few months ago a derelict, half burnt down house around the corner threw open it’s doors. The new owners needed to clear out the junk that had sat there untouched for 30 years. You can only IMAGINE what kind of state I was in when I arrived. Breathless with eagerness. Sweating with hope.

I sprinted into the darkened corners, fear of rats melting in the face of frozen scenes of the Seventies. I was on the hunt and returned successful. A set of drawers, several singular drawers without the set, a few rusty door knobs (you can’t BELIEVE my luck so far, can you?) and a bag full of ancient zips.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them until I was sitting next to a lamp I had kind of upcycled (okay, yeah, just tied ribbon onto) and knew it had to go through it’s third re-invention.

Forgive this shockingly poor picture, it is the Before shot and you KNOW these have to be badly lit, blurry, involve scummy crockery. Also, I had already begun picking off the ribbon before remembering to snap it – I realise it looks a little like a half plucked chicken-lamp.

I had a funny comment on a post the other day, where we were discussing the rich, quirky history some secondhand items must have.  I said “If only the furniture could talk, eh?” and Inkomplete said “I sometimes make up stories for mine.”

Well.

Meet Deakin, the punk-chic lamp from Peckham.

This lamp is a wealthy lamp, heralding from a plush and exquisite mansion in St James Park orphaned but rescued by us in his teen years in 2009. Deakin quickly shed his stuffy heritage, embraced his feminine side and went through a kitch be-ribboned look in his early twenties, as many do. Deakin has reached what some would call a mid life crisis, but what he calls an “awakening.” Deaki is now an anarchist; squatting with some ancient Peckham rockers,  only a hat-tip to his old, more elegant life in a small rosette.

I just hand sewed the zips on. And pushed a bit of my homemade chalk board paint (you haven’t seen that Homemade Chalkboard How To? But you must. It will blow your minds)  in a navy colour around the base. I thought using chalkboard paint would add another dimension but also didn’t want to cough up for expensive tile paint.

The beautiful thing about adding tile grout to your acrylic is that it adds an abrasiveness which means it will stick to ANYTHING, where as normal paint would peel right off a shiny ceramic surface.

So, what d’ya reckon about Deakin eh?

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*sings to the tune of Three in the Bed* Doooo remember to take a look at Magpie Monday!

and also *sings to the tune of The Happy Wanderer* Vote for Meeee, Vote for Meeeee, Vote for Meeee, Vote for Lu-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-stic (Yeah, that one didn’t quite work, anyway:  I got through to the finals of these amazing blog awards, in the Craft and Thrift section and I’d lurve you to vote, thanks so much!)

Loo Roll Zoo – guest poster in the hoouuussse!

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Oof, have I got a TREAT for you lot. I’ve gone and got a Guest Poster, ain’t I?! Maggy is the Empress of Kids Crafts and is one of the five of us who have made it to the finals in the craft category of the MAD awards. I love how completely involved her kids are in the crafty shenanigans and how they often involve plunging through the recycling bin. Here she is with some feral loo rolls- WOOT WOOT!

I am so pleased to be visiting here over at Lulastic AND to have the honour of being the very first Guest Poster! How very exciting!!! My name is Maggy and I am a mum of two (Red Ted – 4yrs and Pip Squeak – 2.5yrs) and I write over at Red Ted Art where I do a lot of classic kids crafts, but also love to do recycled crafts. I am very passionate about recycling – mainly because I hate waste (and the huge landfill problems we are creating), but also because I feel things always still have a value. Plus I love being thrifty! And it is amazing what you can turn something old into!! (I particularly like my jeans recycling craft – making a brand new skirt out of an old pair of jeans – go me!).

When crafting with kids, recycling becomes particularly important – a) because they go through so much materials but b) because I feel I have a responsibility to them to teach them about recycling and re-valuing.

So today I would love to share our Loo Roll Zoo! We LOVED making it and we LOVED playing with it!

We also love combining our crafts with a book…. So… this one was totally inspired by:

Who is Hiding, by Satoru Onishi. I bought this book ages ago for Red Ted, who was less interested in it. Maybe it is an age thing,  I don’t know? Pip Squeak (coming up to 20mths at the time) adored it and had for quite some time. The books is simple: each double spread page has 24 animals depicted (you can see 12 on the cover). They are drawn in a simple colourful style. As you turn the pages, the background changes in colour – e.g. blue, so that in that case the bunny and pig “disappear” as their body colour blends into the background colour (see cover, they are blue) and the child is asked “who is hiding?”… To mix it up a little, there is also a “Who is sleeping?” and a “Who is crying?” page etc. And the page that mine like best:  “Who is backward?” For some reason, in our house this translates into “Who is showing us their bottom?”… and Pip Squeak loves tapping her bottom and saying “Po-Po” (in German). Very sweet, simple book with appeal to “design geeks”.

On to our craft.

It dawned on my one day (as we were reading the book AGAIN), that some of the animals were perfect “loo roll shapes”. Trim a bit at top and bottom for ears and legs and hey presto….

Materials: empty toilet paper rolls, paint (I confess to liking acrylics, as they don’t crumble, but you could varnish your finished animal), bits of felt or card, glue , black pen for features and very favourite googly eyes (optional) (check out our Handprint Alphabet to see all our googly eye fun!)

The kids painted

 Pip Squeak loves painting so much she kept signing “more”… “more more more paint”.

Once dried, I cut out some ears and some feet. Red Ted helped me stick on googly eyes and other features. E.g. for the lion’s mane, we cut a circular piece of felt with squiggly edges and cut a whole in the centre… For the elephant and rabbit we had painted an extra blue loo roll to cut ears from. The rabbit’s ears we glue on the elephant’s ear’s we “slotted” into “slats” we cut. And for example the cat’s ears are part of the original roll – I just cut the roll “down” – leaving two triangles. And don’t forget the bottoms (Po-Po)…

Now you have your own Zoo! Start playing!

I do hope you enjoyed our craft. We have PLENTY more TP Roll Crafts over at Red Ted Art, so do stop by if you ever need more inspiration!!

Thank you for having us.

Maggy, Red Ted & Pip Squeak!

PS- Alright, ‘sLucy here again. Isn’t Maggy awesome? Inspired by the above craft I whipped up a wee duck for Ramona (she is obsessed – remember that crazy ole duck hat I made her?) Unfortunately she is mostly concerned with picking off his eyes/beak/wings so he is now just being ornamental and she doesn’t get to do the playing bit.  (Whaaat?? That’s what she gets for being a rascally picker.)  Here she is doing some picking, wearing her little duck dress.


(mis)adventures in being shampoo free

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We had my Nana’s funeral yesterday. What a woman she was. Utterly fearless;  she left her home in South Wales age just 17, in the middle of the war, to go to London alone, doodlebugs dropping out of the sky, to train as a minister in the Salvation Army.

Nana and Grandad spent her their lives weaving hope and love amongst the neighbourhoods where they worked.  She was totally glam but loved charity shopping and was the ultimate in frugal. For many years she simply had to be – often the only pay they’d get was the pennies dropped in the brass instruments of the Sally Army band.

Nana was the perfect combination of thrifty and generous. Never wasteful with things or money but sharing her life and love and gifts and food with EVERYONE. She was full of faith and always peaceful, and yet was bursting with laughter and down-to-earth wit.  It is hard to imagine the world without her.

I bring Nana up in this post about my hair for a few reasons:

  • I can’t stop thinking about her.
  • My “save a penny no matter the cost” mentality is her fault. (Passed down from generation to generation.)
  • She would have thought my thrifty hair experiment a total riot.
  • My hair experiment went rather publicly and grossly wrong at her funeral….

I gave up shampoo 5 months ago, because it is expensive and full of toxins. I want to teach my hair to stop producing as much oil. So many people over the last few months have suggested my hair is a bizarre fluke, that they could never get away with it. But my hair USED to get greasy after 1 day (“chip pan” greasy was the expression used by one family member at the start of the experiment!)  Then I beat it into submission.

I cut out shampoo with one swift swipe. I moved onto bicarbonate of soda – mixing it into a paste and applying it to the roots mid shower- using it once a week for a month. I would rinse the ends with 1/4 apple cider vinegar to water as a conditioner (not washing it out.) It doesn’t smell once dry. In between the bicarb I used a lot of scarves and backcombing!

After a month my hair stopped producing so much grease. I can now go 5 days with totally clean looking hair.

I then started trying other options as I felt the bicarb was quite harsh.

Egg: Beat an egg, apply for 10 minutes to roots. Wash out, use cider vinegar on ends. (DON’T RINSE WITH HOT WATER UNLESS YOU WANT SCRAMBLED EGG MAYHEM!!) This leaves you hair so shiny and conditioned and clean.

Clay: Rhassoul Clay to be exact, make a paste, apply for 10 minutes. This leaves your hair feeling WONDERFUL! No need for cider vinegar, just brush it through to the ends before washing out. However I needed rather a lot so it didn’t end up being very cheap.

Soapnuts: These are big seeds from a special tree. I boiled them then used the water – it is much more like shampoo than the others. It foams and stings the eyes and everything. My hair was SO SO SO Soft and shiny. It got greasier a little quickly (after 4 days) but this is my favourite so far.

I am thoroughly pleased with my hair. It is thicker and longer and wavier. I am no longer a slave to the hair wash. But I have often wondered if it is merely a case of moving the goal posts. Is my hair actually really minging compared to everyone elses, but I just care much less about grease?

Yesterday I was assured not when my sister- she of the most luscious locks, serious beauty and inclination to drive for 3 hours each way to visit her long standing hair stylist- told me my hair was looking beaut; “shiny and healthy and lovely” totally voluntarily, without me hankering after a compliment or anything.

Hurrah!

I can now go 5 days no wash and feel completely comfortable with my hair, but every month a day is added. I am sure my hair is still learning and that by the time I am 43 I won’t have to wash it ever.

I stretch my hair out to 10 days between washes by making my own dry shampoo.

Dry shampoo: I simply brush through bicarbonate of soda! It soaks up any extra oil but is also a natural cleaner so works dry too. The only problem was that it is a bit too white for my ginger hair so I had the genius idea of adding cocoa and powdered food colouring to it. (Just a 1/8th tsp to 1 tblsp bicarb)

Which, erm, kind of brings me back to the funeral. You see, in the cold this browny red homemade dry shampoo has been AMAZING and I was totally prepared to get on this blogdiggidy and big myself right up for being such a genius.

But then it got hot.

It was REALLY hot yesterday, wasn’t it? Gloriously hot.
Sweaty hot.
Sweaty scalp, cocoa and red food colouring don’t really mix.  But chasing a toddler, crying on shoulders, catching up with cousins doesn’t leave much room for  mirror gazing. So it wasn’t until the end of the day  that my mum, whilst in a group conversation with friends AND strangers, pointed out the brown, sticky mess oozing from my hairline. Licking her fingers she tried rubbing it off- “What IS this?!!” Her: *scrub,  scrub* Me: *blush, blush* “And this orange dribble- it goes right down to your eyebrows!”

Oh, how my Nana would have laughed her second hand  Jaegar socks off.

Chocolate head disasters aside, a few amigos have begun this experiment too and are beginning to find the same results. The main problem is that there is no magic formula. Because every head of hair is unique and every town has different water quality, what works for one person doesn’t work for another – you really have to keep cracking until you find what works for you.

If you want to give it a try you will need:

A good bristle brush – a few weeks ago I got GLOSS WALL PAINT in my hair. I thought I’d definitely need to get out the shampoo but then just tried brushing it and folks, I brushed it right out. Blinking awesome.

This community forum– chockablock with people’s questions and experiments

Some scarves and this video about how to wear ’em:

A slight shamelessness: Remember the point is to re-teach your hair to stop producing oil so you will have to try and stretch out the days between washes.

Gonna give it a crack? Got any questions? Perhaps I could do a Q and A one day… (oof, what a TREAT, I hear you cry!)

PS- If you like ze blog (or just feel sorry for me and my sticky scalp), ‘ow about voting for me in the Thrift and Craft catergories of the MAD blog awards? That would be so excellent of you.

Taking WOW out of our dictionaries

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Ramona has found the word WOW. It spirals out of her mouth, as she opens her jaws wide, the WOW taking over her whole scrunched up face. Unlike other little kids Ramona takes a new word and hones her skill. Instead of picking them up and tossing them round, she’ll discover it and repeat it for three days straight. It will be the last thing she says at night, and the first thing on her lips in the morning. We are hearing WOW alot and it is really most adorable! 

The words she says are often the things she loves – so duck and clip clop (horse, yeah?) came pretty quick, but she also is a bit of a reflection of ourselves – a great resounding HIYA was her first audible a utterance. I didn’t think my Welsh genes revealed themselves that often but hearing Ramona trundle around saying HIYA at every opportunity has corrected that thought! Just yesterday Ramona was having a leetle bit of a tantrum on the floor when our housemate walked past – Ramona paused bawling  to yell out a very polite and cheerful HIYA, and then carried on.

So with her bopping about  WOWing everything, I have realised just how much I say it myself.

And I’m not sure I want to.

Particularly when it comes to the things Ramona does.

I haven’t read much on the subject, just enough to open that old Parenting Can O Worms, but I feel praise has gotten away with us a little. (One article that made me think was by Naomi Aldort and Aptly named “Getting out of the Way”- do read it, if you have moment.)

We are told to praise our children at every step, and I hear adults crying “Aren’t you clever!” at the most simple of things kids do. Here are my jumbled thoughts on the matter:

  • I don’t want her to learn to do things in order to get affirmation from someone else.
  • I want her to do things for the sake of enjoyment.
  • I want to give her creativity free reign- to not put my judgement (good or bad) on her activities and drawings.
  • I don’t want to use words to manipulate her into doing the things I want her to do.
  • Want her to be absolutely assured of my love no matter what her actions are
  • Want to be interested in the things Ramona does – I want her to sense my enthusiasm and care.
I love the image of our children marching to the beat of their own drum, growing up assured in their own imagination and hopes, not bumping around on the words of other people. Nurturing this kind of person begins now I think,  as we put our own WOWing aside.

As Aldort puts it “Getting out of the way gives us an opportunity to become curious observers. At the same time, it frees us of power struggles and initiates an approach to parenthood that is infinitely more enjoyable and fulfilling.”

We are trying to hold back on giving her constant praise, or saying “Clever/ Big/ Good girl” in order to get her to finish her dinner (or something). 

I need to find alternatives though! To show that interest, and to avoid manipulative talk, I need to dig around for what else I say. I am definitely going to try and reserve WOW for being awestruck by a forest, an ocean or a sky full of stars, rather than Ramona climbing up a frame or doing a wee on the potty.

Hmmmm. Are you trying to do this? What do you do? What do you think about it all? You can be totally honest, our family is. My mum is a hoot – Ramona will sit on a chair and mum will say “CLEVER GIRL!” then look at me, then back to Ramona with “I mean; how does this make you FEEL??!!”

Charity Shop Blog Hop and a few magpied marvels

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I used to volunteer in a charity shop on Saturdays, it was so bad for me. I jest not, at the end of the day I would routinely walk away with AT LEAST one bin bag full of finds I couldn’t resist. I’d be in the back sorting, going “One for the shop… one for me… one for the shop…. one for me…”

Since those heady days I have installed charity shopping as the primary source for all our stuff. I just see it as totally win win – a good rumble in their jumble gets us both necessary and frivolous things in a cheap way.  But equally I love knowing the money I am spending is going to help someone or a situation AND I love knowing I am making use of someone’s leftovers. ( I realise that is not even win win, but win win WIN.)

Of course, there is the odd time a grumpy worker bites or you have a couple of weeks of thrifting absolutely NADA, or the time you see a Primark dress going for thrice the price, or the time you get something home and it reeks of someone’s armpits.  (But best not to mention these as each time you  do an old shop volunteer dies.)

I know loads of other people adore charity shops too and there is a whole bunch of bloggers dedicated to showing off our charity shop bounty. I fancy holding a bit of a parrrtaaaayyy showing off the charity shops themselves and I’d love you (Yep, YOU) to join in.

Whoever you are, if you have a charity shop you can never pass without ducking in, a route you often traipse around or have hit up a random town in a splurge of charity shop tourism then blog it and link it in ten days time on Thursday 31st May as part of the (drum roll):

<div align=”center”><a href=”https://lulastic.wordpress.com/&#8221; target=”_blank”><img src=”https://lulastic.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/charityshopbloghop1.jpeg”></a></div&gt;

It could be a secret route, with intricate detail and a google map, or it could be an abstract poem dedicated to your local – anything goes. The aim is to have a little Tinternet soiree  for charity shop lovers and for newbie thrifters to meet the Old School,  but it might also provide some helpful info so we can all plan our holidays around scouring charity shops (What, no one else designs their breaks around that?!)

Please join in – everyone welcome! Simply write a post before or on Thursday 31st May and visit here to add your link using the linky tool. Include the graphic using the code above so people can find their way back to check out the other party people.

I’ll also do a round up of the highlights  a week later in case anyone missed the joys.

Cool. You in, yeah?

Onto a couple of things I have found lately:

Every house needs a step ladder with a plump pile of neatly folded fabric on it eh? The fabric stacked at the very bottom was a hefty £10 from my favourite Fara shop but it is huuuuuge – about 2 x 3 metres.  I am not sure what to do with it. It is a peculiar shiny material. Maybe a blind?

The top piece is about 50cm by 1 metre and is clearly quite ancient- I just love the flowers on it. It was £1.50 from a Geraniums for the Blind shop. I can’t quite bring myself to give it a permanent setting if it involves taking scissors to it. But I know it is wasted perching on a paint splattered ladder.

And lastly, I scored these five plates from the local car boot fair in East Dulwich- just £1 for the five. I love the brown and turquoise design, all the glories of the Seventies right there.

Linking up with Liz’s Magpie Mondays, of course- do have a poke around their second hand loot.

Have you found anything lush lately?

And, do you reckon you’ll join in with the blog hop?

And, how do you feel bout spending 17  seconds voting for Lulastic in the Thrift & Craft categories of the MAD blog awards? (Saying it in third person sounds much less desperate.) Unlike our electoral system, every little vote counts!

Homemade Coloured Chalkboard Paint

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I love the blogosphere. There is SO much creativity and imagination bouncing around, people making, thinking, doing, sharing. Frontiers being smashed to smithereens. I read a post this week that did this for me. It could easily have been about feminist motherhood, gentle parenting or global activism. But, actually, erm. It was about making your own coloured chalkboard paint.

Lemme say it again without hyperventilating: MAKING YOUR OWN COLOURED CHALKBOARD PAINT!

*skips about it total glee*

I have just recently found Ecoempire- a blog that makes my heart sing- and love what she did with the paint. I am working on an upcycled summin summin so have been playing around with the paint for that. But in the mean time I have whipped up a little jar of sweets for our pals who are taking us to Bruges tomorrow for a day trip. You know I love doing things with jars. Such a thrifty way to give gifts, with all the mountains of jars we get through (our own particular mound is primarily due to being such huge gherkin and lemon curd fans.Mmmm. Lemon cuuuuurd.)

Anyway, here you go. Prepare to have your minds completely condoogled with craft and DIY possibilities…

Yeah, for REAL. It is totes that simple.

I am yet to get through a whole tin of blackboard paint so I love that you can just make this up with little bits of paint you have in your cupboard. Someone somehere also has an old tube of grout- so always ask around.

I also painted and superglued a little pig onto the top. I know that is a bit suggestive, giving a jar of sweets with a pig on the top but I didn’t mean in that way, promise. Although one of the recipients loves jelly sweets in an unfathomable way – puts away a whole packet for breakfast even.

I can’t confirm or deny but I think, THINK, this pig may be the one that turned me vegetarian when I was a kid.  We were travelling through Germany and stopped off for some sausages in a roadside cafe and they put a tiny plastic pig on my plate.  I was like “Er, what’s with the pig?” and as I asked the question it all fell into place, the thoughts I had been surpressing my whole childhood. That the beasts of the field end up in our bellies. Clinging to my plastic pig, I vowed meat would never again cross my lips. And it never has. (Apart from a brief period when I used to make salami sandwhiches then take out the salami at the last minute so that the bread and butter still has meat juice on it.)

I did keep him, that momentous pig. And he looked just like this one.

Aaanyway.

I can basically HEAR your minds whirring you crafty foxes- what do you reckon you might make this frontier bashing magical coloured chalkboard paint?

The world is my oyster… no, I’m the world’s oyster. I mean rice.

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I spoke at a Hunger Banquet for work the other week. You know  those events where you turn up for a meal and just eat rice? Well, this was at a restaurant and it kind of threw us all. When the waiting staff came over we asked what was on the menu. Then we marched on with a million other questions. “What does it come with?” “What kind of beans?” What sort of sauce?” Without a word of a lie it was the most questions I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant.  We ordered, she left, we were satisfied.

Then the food arrived. Mounds of plain, white rice.

WHAT THE HELL? We looked at each other in confusion. The organiser squinted at us with a “Are you serious?!” look and exclaimed ” This is a HUNGER BANQUET, people!”

We had conveniently forgotten and spent the rest of the evening shovelling rice in to our mouths with great misery.

Some of you know that I spent last week living on a £1 a day food budget. I would NOT have gone to that Hunger Banquet if I had realised quite how much Value rice I’d have to eat as part of my Live Below the Line challenge. Gah.

I learnt lots of thrifty food things:

Free fruit and veg at the end of market day is not too rotten- and free, did I mention that?
We are going to cut down our organic box order and raid the bins on a regular basis. That kind of waste can’t be justified.
A squeeze of lemon or orange juice can make a nice sauce – with a spoon of vegemite thrown in.
Value food is a lot, ALOT, cheaper than what we usually buy.
Organic really is a massive luxury and just not affordable on a budget.
Garlic should be chopped and thrown in last minute instead of cooked right at the beginning. Same with Soy Sauce.
Your body really does adjust to not eaten snacks all day.
We waste a lot of food. Well, Ramona does. We need to put her half eaten biccies in tupperware so we can re-use them easily.

Other things I learnt (the things I suspect I was meant to learn)

£1 a day is a tiny, tiny, TINY amount of money.
The insecurity of being unsure of having enough food is really frightening – particularly when you have children to feed.
I feel very removed from really poor people in my day to day life.
This exercise made me feel connected, by the end of the week my sense of “global citizenship” was hugely enhanced.
I do genuinely believe  with all my being that a future where everyone has enough to eat is possible.
I want to be a part of a movement that makes this happen.

Ramona needs this! teacollection.com

That is a LOT of learning for 5 days of having Hungry Eyes. (I literally sang that song to myself all week as I stared at people’s tea and cake.)

At the end of the Hunger Banquet I mentioned earlier, the chef who did the cooking came up. She dumped the leftover rice on our table and said something along the lines of “Ridiculous middle class  English people trying to empathise with the poor but actually just mocking them”. We were shocked, particularly as we were all feeling very worthy right at that moment.

There is potential for Live Below the Line to appear that way- a sort of posturing that raises some money (£350,000 to be exact) but fails to actually address the root causes of poverty and primarily serves our “saviour complex”.

However it is forgiven this by being such a powerful exercise in solidarity. There is no way of imagining life as the poorest without trying to embody it in some miniscule way. Of course, it doesn’t compare in the least- we still for the most part had warm homes, gas to cook with, water to drink, jobs to go to, social networks that build in resilience.

 But it bought me back to the reality of millions of people with a stonking big thud. I am convinced that if we all felt a little bit more connected to our global brothers and sisters things would INSTANTLY improve. I am sure that a sense of global citizenship for everyone is the essential first step towards a more just and equal future. Live Below the Line definitely achieves this.

Celine Elliot’s Global Citizen illustration – thinkactvote.org

I do have a worry that I sound like I’m trying to be Gandhi, writing this post. And I guess it’s a worry people often feel when they try to make a difference. That people will just think them self righteous do-gooders but I think this is a fear we need to get over.

Perhaps one way of getting over it is using the thing you LOVE to do to join the movement of change makers. Combining a passion for justice and equality with your appreciation of knitting (someone, somehow is doing this, trust me) blows stereotypes of interfering do-gooders out of the window. It re-sets people’s tired old brains – jogging their minds to remember that another world IS possible. It is like, totally, the bomb. Oof, this craft-changey-knit-movement subject is SO a whole freaking post. Watch this space, peeps, watch this space.

Love,

Girl Gandhi*

PS – I am ten measely quid short of my target – go on, be a global citizen and give some to the Salvation Army’s poverty fighting work.

*This is an in-joke about the time I wanted to be called Eric. You can read about it if you want.

Easy resin craft – Bambi and scrabble letters get Pompei’d

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I want to let you into a little crafter’s secret. I’ve mentioned it once or twice before. It is the key to making stuff that really doesn’t look home made.

Sometimes homemade IS the look you want; mismatched fabrics, crazy collections of buttons, novice stitching. But other times you want to be able to say “I blooming well MADE it!” without stating the absolute obvious.

Let me welcome to the stage, Resin. Crystal Resin.

I whipped up some bottle top magnets a bit earlier and waterproofed a jar lid before, but today resin is moving up from supporting act to main.

I embedded some paper – a tiny cut out deer (I Pompei’d his ass) and a sentence that said “so busy dreaming” – I love that you can see the words all the way through as they curl round. I also cut up a few flecks of sweet wrapper to act as glitter. And thirdly a scrabble letter. No craft experiment of mine is complete without getting a least one old scrabble letter in there.

The thing I especially love is that you could put absolutely ANYTHING inside and it would come out looking cool. An insect flew into the resin as it set – it looked grotesqely nice before I fished it out. Imagine getting your kids to collect random objects and then setting them in?!It is a way of making something together that you can both be stoked with. (Pasta shape pictures only go so far, eh.)

“Here mummy! Here’s a slug!” “Oh, darling. Such a shame, it’s not going to fit into the mold.”

As you can see, I made a necklace and I made a pencil end – it funks up a boring object, transforming it into a  magical wand. But you could really do ANYTHING with these molds. Magnets. Brooches. Rings. Leave them plain and put them in people’s drinks along with the ice as a delight for their eyes as they sip. Party favours or place settings even.

Logistics
At first it doesn’t seem hugely cheap- I use Gedeo which at the moment is online for £12.95 for 300ml. I fill the molds only a third up, so this makes these come in at about 50p each, which I think is pretty bargainous for a gift or bit of jewellery.

Have you noticed, apart from using the drill, this is completely skill free?! If you don’t know how to use a drill I suggest you sort that out pronto. It will change your life. You know the little bits that you poke into the end of the drill? Do you know what they are called? Drill Bits. Yep, it’s true. If that genius simplicity doesn’t make you want to learn how to use it I don’t know what will.

Linking up with Lakota’s spanking new Ta Da! Tuesday.

Also, if you get a moment to vote for me in the MADS, in the Thrift and Craft catergories, that would be phantasmagorically wonderful!

What reckon ye? Got any imaginative ideas for these molds or things to embed?

The Anti-Swank (and check out my orange pop)

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I’ve had a few conversations recently that have made me realise, that when it comes to clothes, furniture and general belongings, Tim and I are like the Anti-Swank.

We take an absurd kind of pride in going as low as you can go. We revel in it and I bet it really annoys people.

Ah, this? Well, this particular suitcase was found in skip, covered in turd. And this chair? From a car boot sale, absolutely ALIVE with FLEAS. And this? Ha, WELL, this old cupboard was dug up from a graveyard and came with decayed flesh in the hinges!

We like to clean things up and say “TADA!” and people often say we’re a bit jammy. (An equal number of people look at the stuff we are TADA-ing over and think “Ugh, looks like it belongs in a turdfilled, cat infested graveyard hole.)

People are mistaking jaminess for total dedication. You see, we can’t walk down a street without peeping up each driveway hoping for something sitting by a bin; we squizz into every skip, take huge diversions to pass by certain bounteous  charity shops.

We absolutely RUIN our days out. When we went to Brighton for a day out on the beach but ended up lugging round a pair of antique scales that, no joke, weighed more than me because we couldn’t resist them in the first charity shop we saw.

We look RIDICULOUS on public transport. The time Tim got three buses home carrying a 6 foot headboard for our bed. Or that surreal time we spent a whole morning unloading a stranger’s giant BeanBag bed into plastic bin bags and then had to get the tube across London, with 4 bags each, thousands of tiny, escaped polystyrene balls whizzing around the carriages on the Underground breeze.

Sometimes our scavengey tactics are foolishness – we think this 100% of the time when we are stranded half way home with a baby, a two bikes and a sofa.

But mostly, when the things end up in our house dolled up and chintzed out, we are pleased.

This corner shelf ruined a perfectly wonderful day out in Putney. It involved scaling a huge fence into a backyard wasteland where we picked through discarded trolleys and tellys. It hung out with us all day and then we had to cycle home with it. We left it plain and enjoyed it immensely until I saw on Pinterest the most WICKED bright shelf and knew I had to recreate it. (Have a look- isn’t it a beaut?)

BEFORE. Do you think I paint funny? Tim mocked my “hold”

So serious was I about making this happen in my kitchen that I WENT TO A SHOP! AND BOUGHT SOMETHING NEW! My sister would be SO proud.  Some lovely bright paint. (Being such a cheapskate however, I only bought the tester pot and it, um, wasn’t enough. I had to blend up my own concoction with some acrylic I had in the draw. Barely perceptible though!)

When we moved into this house two years ago the kitchen was the dreariest, most pinecladded place you didst ever see. Now it is awash with colour and this little corner just totes makes my heart sing. Hopefully in a few weeks time we’ll have some better photos that Pretty Nostalgic took and I’ll do an Extreme Makeover post.

Total Linky WIPEOUT

So many lovely things on Tinternet right now that I have to link up with:

Linking up with the Pinaddicts Crew over at ButWhyMummyWhy – your life will be enhanced by checking out their skills this month..

and the one and only Lakota and her Ta-Dah! Tuesday. She is one of the Charity Shop Oligarchy and you will love her.

Also, it frankly goes without saying, the illustrious Liz and the Magpie Mondays and …

PHEW BLINKING PHEW!

And finally, I, erm, kinda, ah…. GOT THROUGH TO THE FINALS OF THE MADS!!! ARGHHHHH!! I am competely and utterly thrilled. Thank you so much if you voted. Would you mind doing it one more time? You can vote for me in the Thrift and Craft catergories here. Please check out all the other blogs there- they are boombastic.