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Cinnamon Christmas Bird Ornaments


There has been an image doing the rounds on Pinterest, of some homemade, cinnamon smelling heart shapes. I am SURE you will have seen them, possibly you are one of the millions of people who re-pinned it. Because it’s genius, no? Who doesn’t want a house smelling like Christmas, and the wondrous smuggity feeling of having created that pong yourself?

(Some people get this same feeling on the Underground. They let one go and the whole carriage is retching, and they are thinking to themselves, all proud, “I did that.”  I SO know who guffed when I look around a crowd like this, Tube Farters nearly always fit into one extreme –  either Mr I Dealt It You Smelt It with the subtly vainglorious posture, or the opposite purple-faced, Wishing They Could Squeeze Out Of The Crack in the Doors mortified soul.)

Putting together some ingredients to fill your home with the heavenly smog of cinnamonny Christmas is a winner, so I got some stuff together and made it happen.

The gorgeous, original recipe is Stateside so calls for applesauce and bulk cinnamon, of which I had access to neither so here is how I did it:

To make 6 birds and 6 hearts you need….

1 huge apple, peeled and cubed

1 35gram pot of ground mixed spice

1 35gram pot of cinnamon

  • Put the apple in a pan along with a table spoon of water, cover and simmer on low until it is totally soft. It doesn’t take long, around 20 minutes.
  • Leave to cool then blend using a whizzer/ blender until it is smooth as a babies bum.
  • Stir in your spices, bit by bit. Soon you won’t be able to stir, you’ll need to get in with your hands and knead it. You want it to be totally combined. It will be just like a dark dough. Keep adding more spice until it is super dry, like a biscuit dough.
  • I used one pot of cinnamon and one mixed spice as the pots of mixed spice are dead cheap, but still smell lush.
  • Pop your oven on to Gas Mark 2 to heat up.
  • Roll your dough out, using spice like flour so it doesn’t stick.
  • Cut out your shapes.  (Why, YES, I DID use my home made cookie cutter – of course, you could make any shape your fancied!)
  • Push a skewer through to make a hole for hanging.
  • Put on baking tray, with a light dusting of spice on the bottom.
  • Leave in oven for 1 – 1.5  hours or until completely rock hard. (Mine didn’t take long as we have a really hot fire and brimstone oven from the 50’s)
  • Once they are cool thread them up with some ribbon and hang!
  • I also did a layer of  home made mod podge and glitter, to give them an extra sparkle, the smell is still super strong.

handmade christmas cinnamon decoration birds

Happy Christmas pong creating!

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DIY Cookie Cutter

Just a really quick post today, I am running around like a blue arsed fly getting things ready for the Oxford Street Fairtrade Christmas market on Saturday – woooo!

I needed a cool bird (it HAD to be a bird) cookie cutter to make a Christmas decoration with, and our collection is limited to one lonely, lowly gingerbread man shape. We make gingerbread men biscuits all the time (I say we, but Tim is really the baker), they are Ramona’s faves- she calls them “The Boys”, which makes for quite cute exclamations like “YUMMMMY! ME LIKE BOYS!”

I had a rummage in our Throw-Everything-In cupboard and came up trumps with a ream of sturdy metal. Anything would have done – a strip of copper, or the bottom of one of those aluminum take away trays cut into a strip would be ideal (especially as you wouldn’t have any questions abut toxicity.)

I sketched the shape I wanted, and with a pair of pliers bent it into a bird.

I am SO excited by this new prospect of being able to twist metal into a myriad of shapes – it will be nice to have quirky biscuits, but also I am thinking about being able to cut shapes out of air-drying clay. Wheeeee!

*Forgets the Christmas Fayre and spends day with a pair of pliers*

Easy Toddler Wings Craft

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When I was a wee tike I was selected as part of the Royal Ballet Help the Poor South London Kiddies Scheme. It meant being bustled off each week to a cold, scary big hall and leaping from corner to corner and getting told off for not leaping gracefully enough by older ballerinas. I didn’t really like it much (what an ungrateful Beneficiary of Good Will!) and didn’t last very long. But before I had my last tussle with Mum about whether I could give up this opportunity I did get to perform in the Royal Opera House dressed as a giant chicken.

Despite being a rubbish, ungrateful ballerina I can remember being so proud on that stage, and feeling so full of fancy, so unlike my clumsy self, I felt that even my leaping met the grade, as a flapped my way from stage left to stage right.  I think I was probably the last child out of my suit.

There is something about wings, even those wings of the inelegant chicken, that makes a child’s imagination soar.

After seeing some images of a child in wings on the internet a few times, I decided I had to give this craft a crack and discovered just how irresistibly easy it is and what delight they provoke in children!


It was such a simple craft, anyone could manage it with just some scraps of fabric and a sewing machine. It did take a while cutting out all those reams of looping feathers, and it is fairly monotonous sewing the lines – but I am sure you all have a much higher boredom threshold than me!   I used up some upholstery samples, so I had fantastic, bold colours but really just too heavy for tiny arms to happily flap for hours.

How to:

  • You need a base that reflect the arm length of the child. I did 30 cm x 30 cm (for a 1-2 year old, would fit up to 3)  and cut a loose curve between them.
  • I then cut lots of loopy strands, beginning at 36 cm and getting smaller as you sew up into the corner.
  • My strands were  around 5 cm wide, but these could be any width- wider if you are lazier than me and want less strands or much less wide if you would like lots and lots of feathery layers.
  • Best to leave a loop hanging off each end and then cut the loop smaller once you are all done.
  • I just sewed straight along the top of each strand from corner to corner, wriggling and doing tiny tucks as I went to accommodate the curve for the first one or two longer strands. For the short strands you can zip straight along.
  • I then laid them out to make a half circle and so I could easily imagine where the ribbon needed to go.
  • I then attached a long piece ribbon to the pointy corner of each wing, with a few centimetres between them, so that could go around the neck with a nice bow.
  • I left the bottom corner to just hang, and tied a smaller bit of ribbon on the far end corners to tie around the ribbon.
  • Hope that all makes sense!

As you can see, I didn’t use the ideal fabric and my cuts are wonky but it still turned out okay! Such a forgiving craft, my absolute favourite kind.

I made two pairs to send to my two toddler nephews in New Zealand. It is hard finding crafty  present ideas for toddlers and children so I was REALLY happy when my sister-in-law sent a video of her darling boy having a major giggle, flapping about and dancing to Adele. These are now my present of choice for every child!!

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…

My Workbench: repairs of any kind undertaken

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One thing I discovered pretty early on about crafting is that if you don’t have a little nook where you can keep your tools and materials accessible, it simply doesn’t happen. That one extra step of getting out your things can completely dissolve your crafting resolve, don’t you find?

We have lived in some tiny dives in the past (yup, especially thinking of the first place we had as a married couple with a CRAZY Hungarian landlord. Our place was basically a box at the bottom of his garden and he would tell us off for having friends over, and for keeping it not quite as tidy as he liked. In fact, once we had handed in our notice he took potential future tenants inside while we were out at work without telling us, and then had the audacity to yell at me about the clothes on the floor, calling it a “f%!*ing brothel!”)

So, we are so stoked to have a big enough place where I can actually have a workbench (okay, I too called it “Craft Corner” but right here and now I am switching to “workbench”. Craft Corner sounds a bit toddlery and I can’t have that. Couldn’t possibly explain to the hospital how Ramona has a perfectly spherical chunk out of her tongue from chewing on my leather punch! )

Anyway, with no further ado, here ’tis…

As you can see, it is pretty much in our main living room, so all the bits and pieces are stuffed in to jars in the draws, in a faint nod towards organisation. Tim found this humongous wooden beast in a skip-  who would dump this?!

I put this little shelf up myself *smug* with like, a level, and drill, and all that.  (I am getting to grips with power tools these days so that Ramona doesn’t grow up thinking some household jobs are daddy ones. Cor, being a feminist is tiring, innit.)

These scissors were a SNIP at £4 from Oxfam in Herne Hill – pinking shears are over £20 in John Lewis. However, er, they are blunt. Any tricks on how to sharpen these? The Google jury is out on the matter.

There are a few papers stuck up there – one is a small yellowed advert for a corset company just round the corner from our house. We found it in the floor boards, have a read, it is quite the funny one…

Home made corsets for Housewives! Repairs of any kind undertaken! A Lady will call with Samples!

I love old tennis rackets, I really, REALLY do and always have. In the house I lived in before I married Tim, I had a whole wall covered in them, and each net had homemade rosettes pinned on. Whenever I see one for under £2 I always snap it up.

And, we have a perfect little gap on the right hand side, normally invisible to the human eye, where all my extra fabrics and things I don’t know what to do with can be stuffed innocuously.

Do you have a workbench or a craft corner? Or just a wild eyed Hungarian pressing his face against your windows?

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

These are some of the spare shots not used in the Pretty Nostalgic feature. They were shot by Jenny Harding, you should scope out her photography site, it is BEAUT!

And finally, did I mention I’m on FACEBOOK?! *sings* Come on over! Come on over baaaabyyy.

Make your own reusable ice lolly containers

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Hurrah, the sun has popped out this week meaning I have been able to test my latest invention. Unlike my Sock-Sorting-Washing-Line (does what it says on the tin) and my Swellies (soft waterproof wellies for commuters to fold up in their bags!) which earnt me nothing but ridicule despite being completely genius, these made it to prototype stage. And they are a raving success at the trial phase. . .

They are little tubes I have sewn out of old packaging, and filled with yoghurt. As hoped, they make a delectable,  healthy and cooling snack for my little lass.

Yeah, alright, technically Calypso came up with the squeeze-an-ice-pop-out-of-a-tube idea in the nineties. But DID they empower you take something you were gonna chuck in the bin, add ONE line of sewing (or I have even successfully tested a hot glue gun version) and make your own that you can use FOREVER?

Nope, my friends, they didn’t. So here it is:

I can not explain how EASY this is, and how magically they work. They just squeeze straight out the top, the kids munch ’em up, you give them a little clean and fill them up again/ put in a drawer for another time.

I used my own homemade yoghurt (yeah, we are well hippyville like that, recipe is here) mixed with some whizzed up strawbs that had gone slightly too soft.

I also took it too another level – sewing some little sleeves out of some cute old serviettes to fit over the plastic tubes – suiting our whimsical garden where most lolly pop devouring occurs.  It serves a dual purpose of preventing little hands from falling off from freezing temperatures and also soaking up the excess juices. It was just a case of cutting enough fabric to fit round the tube, sewing the two long ends together and hemming to open top and bottom.

HERE’S TO SUMMER!!!

PS – Notice how I don’t really know what to call these icey-yoghurt-things-in-a-tube. Freeze pops? Ice pops? Ice lollies? Ice Lolly containers? Neither google nor Twitter came to the fore here – someone helpfully suggested “Lolly pop without a stick”. Gah. What do you reckon?