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Monthly Archives: August 2012

DIY placemats with HomeMade Chalkboard Paint

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One of my favourite blogging chums is Lakota over on Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping. I love her hilarious, thrifty, crafty and chazza shop loving ways. Almost in the same week we posted about chalk board paint – me with my revolutionary home made coloured chalkboard paint recipe, and Lakota with a thrifty take on a snazzy placemat. Together we thought they would make a COMPLETE MAXIMUS GENIUS BLOGGING COLLABORATION! 

So here is her post about that: 
A little while ago the Not on the High Street catalogue dropped through my letterbox, and whilst it is a lovely treasure trove of independent makers of stuff – erm, that isn’t on the high street, what it isn’t is cheap. Look at these chalkboard placemats – great fun, but a set of six is £64.99! Yes, you read that correctly. If you want matching coasters, the total would be £91. Blimey. Clearly ‘Claire’ moves in more exalted circles than I.

This is not just any strawberry cheesecake…
photo credit: Not on the High Street.com

Anyway, last week I found these at the bottom of the kitchen drawer – I used to use them all the time but as you can see they’ve got a bit battered and scratched over the years so they were relegated for visiting toddler use and then forgotten about. However, if you don’t have any mats ripe for a makeover you quite often see hideous ones at your Granny’s house charity shops or car boot sales, you know, nasty ones with scenes of fox-hunting or twee thatched cottages.

I used a tester pot of Annie Sloan chalk paint in ‘graphite’ and gave each mat a few coats. It dries very quickly so didn’t take very long at all. A quick scribble with my pastel pencils – I know, posh – and I had my own version ready to wow my guests. (Ed. Only meeee!  Forget Annie Sloan and make your own with a dash of acrylic and some tile grout WOOPIEE.)

 

Of course, if you’re not a gastronomic wizard like myself, you can just use them for playing hangman between courses, writing instructions for your butler, shopping lists, or perhaps improving slogans for the benefit of your offspring.

What would you doodle?

How wicked is that? We are cut from the same cloth, Lakota and I. Looking at expensive things and going home and doing a version on the cheap! Imagine making these in different colours with the homemade recipe? Next Level.  Every Tuesday Lakota hosts Ta-Dah Tuesday where bloggers can show off thrifty finds, craft magic, anything really. Do get involved 😀

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Transforming rubbish old tins with old paper

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I really, really hate throwing stuff away. If it wasn’t for my husband I’d probably get written about in the Metro, how I have to tunnel myself in and out of my house because it is wall to ceiling with stuff. Much of that stuff would be containers that I plan to Do Something With. I have a whole cupboard of jars and tins and things. They are SO useful, but I appreciate that they are a bit annoying while you wait for the inspiration/ time to craft ’em up.

A few weekends ago we went to an AMAZING car boot – and met some of your typical Booty Rogues and Gems– and I came away with a load of lovely jumble, including two rolls of truly retro wall paper, one for 10p and one for 50p. For real, I mean, HOW LUSH!

I felt it would be perfect for a bit of transforming old tins business.

You will need:


Schnizzors (that is Gangsta for scissors)

Paper or fabric

A ruler (but you are not a school kid and it isn’t the nineties so maybe a measuring tape instead)

A pencil

Some homemade Mod Podge (Pva and water)

Some old tins – coco tins/ milk powder tins/ stock tins/ etc tins

Measure all the way around the tin, and the height of it. Plot this on to your paper (It will be a long rectangle) add an extra 0.5cm onto the end of the length and cut it out.

Slather it with Mod Podge, if it is thick. Be a little scrimpier if lightweight paper. Smooth it on, adjusting it, overlap the last 0.5cm. I did loads at one time and, honestly, it probably took me 15 minutes for the whole shebang. In the past I have also varnished over the top to make them super robust.

These will be ideal for odds and ends and crafting supplies, but also for… wait for it… presenting people with biscuits! Tim makes the most AMAZE biccies and it is always a bit of a worry that the tin they get given in (or manky tupperware) might not come back. With these it just doesn’t have to.

Linking up with that totes marv Liz and the Magpies!

PS Fancy joining in with the Charity Shop Blog Hop? Simply write up your fave chazza shop/ route & link it up in a few weeks time. See the details here, my friends.

Attachment Daddy: Intuitive parenting

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My husband is a lovely writer, and a fabulous daddy, and has been on quite a journey with the attachment fatherhood stuff. I thought it would be WICKED to get his perspective on some of it all for this blogdiggidy. He agreed! What a LEDGE. So here he is, an intro post, on parenting by instinct.

Ramona is coming up 2 years old now.  I can’t actually believe how fast those years have gone.  It seems like only yesterday that I was looking in awe and wonder at Lucy’s growing tummy, trying to get my mind around the fact that a little life is growing in there.  I remember the moments when Ramona’s head crowned, followed by her tiny little body into the arms of the midwife.   While I was busy wide eyed exclaiming that we have a little girl, Lucy’s hands were already reaching back through her legs instinctively for this little life that was now newly apart from her.  “Give her to me.”  A mother and her daughter after a very long labour, that time completely forgotten melting into one another.

So the journey for me began.  My stumbling instinct, and Lucy’s primeval mothering one, together parenting Ramona Lily.
Things are always the hardest when you haven’t done them before, especially when popular culture seems to ever willingly chide your methodology.  My feelings swing from experiencing the beauty of waking with the snuggling cuddles and kisses of my precious child to the jealous desire to have my Lucy to myself, apart from this ever present little limpet.  From feeling Ramona snuggled safely and cosily around me in a sling, to lazily wanting her somewhere else so I can enjoy the cool breeze.  From wanting her to learn that I won’t always be there, to wanting her to know completely that I will.  Unconditionally, without question or hesitation.
My instincts seem buried much further beneath the expected norms of society and upbringing than Lucy’s.  There’s always a book that I should be reading, a documentary or article that I need to check out.  Sometimes I feel like I’m being coached in this strange new art, yet I don’t want that all the time.  Lucy and I talk often about parenting.  I think I am relatively open minded and good at listening as well as talking.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about choosing a home birth (or rather attempting to).  All my hesitations that I previously had had seem now totally ridiculous to me.  Worries no longer there with the benefit of hindsight.  Without a second thought we’d do it all again, with very little, if any, changes.  The doubts I have shelved, by all accounts lost, in the files of time.  Perhaps I’ll feel like that about all our parenting decisions too one day.  Why did I ever doubt?  Why did I ever question?
Ramona is by far one of the loveliest people that I have ever met.  She is (mostly) gentle, loving, engaged and curious, independent and graceful.  She climbs like a monkey, she runs with a bouncing carefreeness that I adore.  Her cuddles are like none others that I have ever experienced.  I am proud and happy of our growing girl.
Oh, nice one Tim. He is going to cover some of the practices of attachment soon. Cosleeping, extended breastfeeding and babywearing. Should be some nice honest stuff to come, I reckon. THANKS TIMPOP! (This is the sweet nothing 6 years of marriage has seen me ending up calling him- and also everyone I love. It is short for Pop-on-off. Sometimes it sounds like I am calling him Polpot so I shouldn’t really do it in public. But I do. An antique dealer actually once said to me: You can’t call him that! HARUMPH.) 

Happy

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In Ramona’s mind the song Happy Birthday and the Upsy Daisy tune from In the Night Garden occupy the same place. She will yell “AAAAAAppyyyy” and if you respond with either of those two things she will be STOKED. That is a tip for you, for winning her heart.

Do you know what makes me happy?

Seeing Ramona learn to jump. She has been working on this for a month or so, and still hasn’t quite nailed the two-feet-off-the-ground-at-the-same-time angle. I love to watch her do this, she throws EVERY molecule of energy into this movement, crouches low, thrusts her body up, arms in the air. To all effect and purpose she is failing at jumping, but actually she is having a brilliant time and I am laughing my socks off with joy – success is so overrated. It is a lesson for life.

Making makes me happy. I am sure we are all made to make. Not in a capitalist, industrious way but in a weaving beauty kind of a way. Creating stuff gives us purpose and life and connects our souls to mystery and meaning. Sometimes I feel a bit in a fug, emotionally dry and also sometimes slightly drained by the spectatorship of the internet – whipping something up, even just a 5 minute number, injects me with energy again. Like steroids, pretty much. I love beautiful fabric in my hands, the pounding crank of my old sewing machine, cutting out pictures and words, giving old stuff a new lease, seeing something come together.

People, people make me happy. (Apart from the ones that really annoy me BAHAHA. Like the ones that let their dog take a dump in the park and don’t clean it up and then your toddler thinks about eating it. Or even just colleagues who don’t do a “courtesy flush” – you know the flush you do a millisecond after your poo so that the smell doesn’t fill the communal loo? You don’t do that? You need to sort that right out.) So. Nice people. Yesterday our neighbours bought us round a pizza. Who does that? Our neighbours do. They are three ancient sisters from Tobago who have all lived together there for fifty years and they always drop in with random items- strawberries, half a bag of donuts, a beanie for Ramona. Is that the most happy-making thing in the world or what? I honestly just think people are brilliant and I hope my heart (often cynical by default) never hardens to them. Having neighbours like this helps with that.

Read the rest of this post over at the scrumpcious Shiney Pigeon where I am guest blogging today!

What makes you happy, my friends? Would love to hear the things that warm your heart.

PS – Thanks again to Jenny Hardy for these beaut shots.

Winning Lucky Devils & Charity Shop Blog Hop Announcements

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A little while ago I hosted the inaugural Charity Shop Blog Hop. The idea was that secondhand lovers could all come together to Big Up their favourite shop or route. There were some SERIOUSLY amazing contributions. Go and read them, you’ll be inspired, promise! 

How about another one? Shall we say Thursday 13th September? That gives you time aplenty to get out there, chose your route, write it up and link it.  Not only do you get to join a kind of directory of charity shop routes, I also do a round up the following week – giving your beautiful blog the shout out it deserves! The link will only be open for a week so try and get in there 😀 And also, remember one of the main points of this is to discover other charity shop loving bloggers, so PLEASE go around and visit the other linker-upper-ers and say HELLO. And remember to link back her with this old image…

Right. Onto the lucky devil hey?

Thank you to everyone who entered last week’s blogiversary giveaway. I was SOOOO stoked to read your Hello’s, to get to kind of meet some of the people who read but don’t naturally comment. (Hey, don’t worry about that- I read and love LOADS of blogs but find commenting on my phone really hard work. So I understand.)

Because I am lazy, I just used the Random Number Generator, and then the number that corresponds with the comment is the winner. So. I am pleased to let you know that…

SARAH PAINTER

won this little parcel of delights. Nice one! I am seriously going to post this first thing. *preemptive smugness*

Sorry to those of you that didn’t win. I’ll do another one soon eh?

Thanks once again, keep reading and do join in the Charity Shop Blog Hop in September! 😀

Retro Razors – on shaving, not shaving and thrifty beauty

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Let’s talk about hair. Hairy coarse hair on women; on legs, pits and bits. I veer from being COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY AND ANGRILY ANTI shaving – why in the world would we do it? It was an invention by those hoodwinking Madmen who wanted to create a new market for razors!!! To feeling like I would quite like a frivolous smooth finish on my pins once in a while, and not have people stare at my bushy arm pits.

Not shaving

You know, I didn’t even shave for my wedding. And Tim has told me that it doesn’t interrupt his idea of sexiness. When I see other women avec hair, I love them, I respect their courage and their bold gesture towards oppressive ideals of beauty.  I want to be part of this brave mob challenging these norms. I want Ramona to know that beauty isn’t about tweaking and pulling and stripping and squeezing into some tiny grotesque mould a group of strangers built.  So. For years and years I have tried not to shave. I do say try because it is REALLY HARD to do something that literally makes people STARE AT YOU every day. Sometimes I just wish all women could do this in solidarity, so no one got stared at! (For a great insight on what it is like being hairy read this Guardian piece.)

As a result sometimes I don’t want to be hairy. I want to wear a short skirt and look at my legs and think nothing, and not have other people eye-grazing them. (Although the hair does cover up the bruises I have routinely because I am the clumsiest person in the whole world.) Sometimes I do want to attempt the appearance of traditional prettiness. There. I confessed. It is hard to completely overthrow that feeling.  Genuine question- have any of you managed to get totally get rid of that niggling, deep idea that you should look a certain way?

Shaving

So, let’s talk about getting rid of it. Once, some friends waxed my legs. IT KILLED ME! It was honestly about 50 brazillion times more painful than my tatoos! Perhaps it was to do with what I was prepared to cope with in the name of beauty = not much. I don’t even pluck my eye brows.  So, if I am feeling a smooth day coming on, or if I fancy going without deodrant (well, bicarb) for a while and require bare pits to get away with it,  I am totally indebted to my trusty double edged retro razor.

Thrifty beauty

And right there lies a beauty tip that will save you proper dosh and will give you the best shave EVER. An old double edged razor. It looks beautiful, has already last a life time and will last two more, costs around 5 p for a blade that will last for 5 shaves and hacks off ANY amount of hair.  It may seem weird for me to be like “Oh, shaving sucks BUT HERE do it with this!” – it is just I think it is so unlikely that womankind will cast off shaving, it make sense to promote the eco, thrifty option. The one that doesn’t pour money into the pockets of rich corporations.

My friend Dan Fone took this snap of some of my dad’s stuff http://www.hammerheadrabbits.com

Get started

Because they have become such a collectible they aren’t incredibly easy to come across; you will have to keep your eyes peeled. Antique shops and car boots are the best place. You want to find a Gillete – any era will d0 – chose the style you fancy in good condition. Little rust, no cracks. Then get a packet of blades from Boots and away you go.

My dad first got us into all of this. At first I kind of thought he was a tiny weeny bit mad but he has slowly convinced us all. It is truly the greenest and thriftiest way to get rid of hair, and also really celebrates the beautiful design of the last century’s different eras. My dad has a small collection now, each one sitting perfectly in it’s time, with a story behind it.

Technique

The technique is different, a different angle (a right angle) and use short strokes, washing off the hair inbetween. I use conditioner in replace of shaving foam. Take it real slow the first few times, until you pick it up. Rinse and dry the razor once finished. This site has some bits and bobs on it and quite a bit more info.
So. Are you a feminist shaver? A razor boycotter? A smooth waxer? Let’s hear it! 😀  Think you might get into this retro razor shenanigans?

Knock, knock, knocking on Number 10’s door

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It was a scorching morning, the sun bearing down on our squinting faces, as we posed for photo’s, fake knocking on the famous door of Number 10.

I was representing Oxfam, along with other activists from Concern, ONE, Action Aid, Unicef and Save the Children, delivering a huge box of names – over 600,0000 people calling for immediate action on hunger in the Sahel area. The Prime Minster is holding a summit with all the VIP’s in town on Sunday – we had to let him know that we were all watching.

We toyed with what expression to put on for the photographer – happy, because everyone looks nicer with a smile, and we were thrilled that such a HUGE number of people were behind this, or stern, because 18 million people are starving to death each year? We each opted for something different, to mix it up a little. Unfortunately I was the Furious Scowling One. With the unwashed hair and the stain on her tee shirt.

There were some press inside the gate, and we piqued their interest a bit. They bossed us about, moving us around to get a good shot. I hope they cover this, I hope they show telly watchers how many people are involved in this fairer-world movement.

After much dillydallying, we handed over the box. And posed, fake knocking a bit more.

I really had to Instagram the hell out of this to disguise my slovenly ways

Job done, and as we thought about heading home, someone mentioned we could stay a bit, watch the Prime Minister get in his car.

Er.

I wasn’t keen. I was anxious, I had had to get friends to look after my daughter, Ramona, and I was already running late for them. And, why would I want to watch a stranger I wasn’t a fan of get in their car? I have to admit, a tiny bit of me considered whether I might be able to shout something out, to get across to him how urgent this was and how passionate we were. Would I get the sack? Or gunned down? Could I call out but in a kind, friendly, I-don’t-have-a-bomb-or-custard-pie way? As I wondered, someone else approached.

They ushered us out from behind the barriers, and explained that the Prime Minister would like to say hello.

We gathered by the door and a second later his chummy, pleasant face appeared. Not wanting to let a moment slip, in my Very Best, Most Articulate and Confidently Loud voice announced, like some kind of Head Girl speech, “We trust you are going to do every thing you can to create a world free from hunger” He pledged to. “We are passionate about a just world and hundreds of thousands of others are too.” He understood and chatted a bit more. Mo Farah was coming! They were gonna set up a race track! But he seemed positive that his hunger summit would be worth it.

As he left, we celebrated, we hugged and high fived. Delivering a petition turned into something that bit more. Not because we were stunned by the (very) rich and famous but because we hoped that the Prime Minister picked up our energy, that our faces, a little gang of global citizens, might be in his mind as he heads up Sunday’s meeting of leaders. Maybe he captured our hope and maybe we helped fortify him, to make the decisions he must. We can only wait and see.

And now I can say I didn’t even wash my hair for the PM. THAT is how much I don’t care for his Toryism and THAT is how much of a hippy I am.

Be a Good Un, find out more and continue to take action on Sahel here.