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Category Archives: DIY

Thrifty Gifts: a jar of crayon shapes

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I found a few manky crayons in a gutter the other day, on the way to the park. I picked them up (by no means the nastiest thing I have fished out of a gutter) to try that Melty Thing. It is a genius idea; crayons get so quickly get broken/ pick up a layer of muck that every family house probably has a stash in disfavour. Just give them a new lease of life with a bit of melting into shapes action.

I have a few cool shaped ice trays, I always pick them up in charity shops and car boots and I use them for resin craft,  (Well, I did try, um, baking in the elephant shape one and melted half of it. Really, they look just like the silicon muffin numbers.)

In an act of Completely Obvious Craft Blogging here is how I did it – not the baking melt fiasco, the crayon shapes, yeah?

 

  • I oiled the shapes first, to help them pop out easier.
  • They take about 40 sec to melt, I kept them moving all the time.
  • I worked from light/ similar colours to dark so that I didn’t have to clean the pan much inbetween.
  • They take about 30 minutes to dry solid in a cold place (my kitchen table)
  • The ones that I filled less than 1 centimetre broke as I popped them out – so don’t be stingy with the liquid!
  • You will need White Spirit to clean out your ice trays and pans, so do use ones you don’t use for consumption anymore!

This is going to make a fine gift for a little tot I know- toddlers are actually quite hard to make for, beyond sewing cuddly things. I am hoarding jars for my Christmas gifts-  it must be THE thriftiest way of giving nice gifts. Start doing it and in a couple of weeks they’ll be a thrifty, gifty ideas for jars post… *raises eyebrows up and down in a conspirational- watch-this-space- kind of a way*

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Homemade Rosehip Oil – a bit of thrifty foraging

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*sings* Tis the season to pick rosehips, tralalalalaaaalalalala!

When I was pregnant the last time I was sent a tiny, expensive vial of rosehip oil. Oof, it was LUSH.  It is apparently amazing for stretch marks and scars and also adds a pre-emptive resilience to your skin. However, not one to waste such an ingredient on my vast, mostly unseen belly I used it on my face and it ended up softer and smoother than my newborn’s bum.

The oil is all gone now, and I’ve been kind of pining for it lately, knowing I’d never get my mitts on such a fine Frankincense-like substance again. And THEN I googled “rosehips” (oh man, I am such an urbanite) and turns out I like, er, pass them everyday of my life! My front garden is bursting with them, because, of course, they are just the seed pods of old roses! Heavy laden branches of them hang over my head as we walk to the park, their red skin squishes beneath my feet as we trundle to the bus stop. Glory be.

I wanted to make the most of them before all the gardeners cut their roses back, as October is the season for that. And homemade rosehip oil, with it’s skin restoring, vitamin A packed goodness, is about as easy as it gets.  Whilst this method isn’t pure seed oil, this does achieve a huge amount of the goodness and is commonly used extraction method in The Industry.

You Need:

Rosehips

Oil (any oil will do- almond oil is lovely and light for your skin but I went with normal nut oil as it is cheaper and is incredible for your skin all by itself)

Something to warm it in – I used my yoghurt maker, but a slow cooker on lowest setting will do, or keeping the jars in a warm airing cupboard/ on a radiator

A siv with a piece of cloth in/ muslin to strain it through

How to:

I filled one third of my jars with clean, dry rosehips. I topped up with nut oil. I placed in my yoghurt maker for 12 hours then strained into another squeaky clean jar.

The jars need to either be dark (snazzied up Marmite jars?) or kept in a dark place as Rosehip Oil is a little sensitive to light.

A whole jar of thrifty beauty, just like that. I reckon a jar of this – particularly if you made the jar look nice– would be a gorgeous Christmas gift, no?

(Argh, not only have I gawn and got a Christmas tune in your head, I’ve actually gawn and said the word! That’s it folks, you know what that means. It’s festive frivolity from here on in. WOO!)

(Meanwhile, my foraging neighbour Lakota has also posted about rosehips- with some delicious syrup. HELLO! Linking up with her rosehip sweetness and Ta Da Tuesday.)

Add some sparkle to an old pair of shoes

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So, what did you think of The Debate? Unexpected dynamics or what? Reckon Obama might have recovered ground with his forthright derision of Romney’s truth-avoidance techniques today? Obviously the impact of the American political spectrum ca-

OH HELLO! Sorry, caught me right in the middle of being Very Serious. What’s that? You want to hear about my sparkly shoes? You want a tiny, quick glittery How To? Weellll… this will almost be my THIRD fashion-y post in a row, which could make me seem downright frivolous. But, they ARE nice and I AM going to have to stop talking about going to the MAD blog awards soon…

So I had this posh frock, and this big hair do, and then some old, tired clodhoppers. They are so comfortable but I bought them 5 years ago- from a second hand shop. Not right, I tell ya.

So with a small £1.50 jar of glitter and a tube of shoe glue (BY THE WAY, THE BEST INVESTMENT EVER! You can fix all your own shoes at a mere fraction of the price – buy from a shoe repair person) I added a sprinkle of glamour.

  • With a paintbrush I painted glue on to the parts I chose to funkify (use tape to mark off bits you don’t want glitter on. I didn’t due to a very poor work ethic.)
  • Working quickly I put the shoes in a box and shook glitter all over them – reusing the glitter at the bottom of the box.
  • I worked strap by strap so glue didn’t dry too quickly.
  • The glue dried in a couple of hours and I was safe to traipse the streets of London.
  • Spray on a waterproof varnish to seal it all. (I ran out of time, working on my beehive.)

I was SO happy with them, they were devoid of any “handmade vibe” even with my slap-dashery. I was even more stoked when I spotted these essentially IDENTICAL Louboutin numbers.

This could work with ANY shoe- A Thrifty Mrs does brilliant ballet pumps, Court Shoes look AMAZING and is such an eco, frugal way of rejuvanting old shoes – particuarly with party season ahead.

Right… back to rich old Romney…

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!)

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 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.

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!