Wednesday, 30 September 2009

New favourite

Loving this new snack I've 'invented' this week.

Okay, I'm sure someone must have done it before me. Flatbreads (discovered in Tesco's at weekend) with ham, sunblush tomatoes and basil. The key ingredient is the sunblush tomatoes which are somewhere between sundried and your average tomato.

Delicious and more importantly takes less than 30 seconds to prepare.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Alternative fruit bowl

My best friend Harry bought me this cake stand as a moving in present 18 months ago. It is cream enamel with little butterfly cut-outs all over the tiers.

Now anyone who knows me will understand that I should really be laying off the cakes right now! So, to ensure this beauty is on display every day I use it as a fruit bowl.

I could be clever and use the two tiers to separate the bananas out (I know that would make you happy C ;-) so they wouldn't overripen everything else, but to be honest bananas last approx 2 hours in this house before the kids scoff them.

Do you have anything you don't use for it's original purpose?

Monday, 28 September 2009

Dog on Wheels

Feeling inspired by Amanda Blake-Soule's new book Handmade Home I was desperate to do something crafty last night.

I had the idea to make a cushion using:-
  • an old pillow that was ready to be thrown out
  • a pillowcase that my youngest had had a nosebleed on (sorry is that too much info?! - to add to the horror I've even shown a pic above) and try as I might I couldn't shift the stain
  • some cheap but lovely Ikea linen (£3.99 per metre)
  • My sewing machine that hadn't seen the light of day for about 6 months
First I created a square cushion by taking the pillow and shuffling all the stuffing up to one end, and sewing so it would all stay put.

I then lay the cushion on the linen and cut a front piece, leaving about 1" allowance (I think this may have been too generous though as the completed cushion isn't as plump as I'd like). I cut out the dog picture and stitched this to my linen using a zig zag stitch. I then took the red ribbon trim and sewed this all around the picture (got a bit over ambitious here with the mitred corners but nothing ventured.....nothing gained).

Once it was kind of square I made the back of the cushion using 2 more pieces of linen and attached it altogether envelope style.

I was so proud of my creation and showed it to I, who exclaimed incredulously - 'What is that?! A dog on wheels?!'

He just didn't 'get' it........but I'm happy anyhow.

Sunday, 27 September 2009


Feeling cosy at home this weekend - trying something new with a 'word of the week' the kids can learn from our blocks spelt out on the fireplace. As we've lost 6 letters from our set this is quite a challenge! This week is 'home'.

Ventured out with kids and their cousins - I, above teaching Yoyo how to use her brakes.

And the all important ice-creams.

And this evening I have been balancing the books.....and it's back to the envelope system for us for the next few weeks. Essentially dealing in cash only makes you think hard about where your money goes. We use 4 categories to allocate the cash to - Food, Petrol, Clothes & Home and Fun.

We *always* end up borrowing from the Fun envelope...........

Friday, 25 September 2009

Command Central

This is command central in our home.

We have a really odd shaped hall which is too narrow for a console table, but there is this little area against the back of the stairs which we use to store the usual suspects of keys, loose change, phones etc.

The shelf we bought years ago from Ikea for our old kitchen (it is designed to sit under your existing wall cupboards as an additional shelf), but it just didn't look right. When we moved here it seemed meant to fit this space. In the little cubbies we keep batteries, the meter box key, work security passes etc....basically 'man drawer' stuff, nothing terribly exciting.

I, aka the Queen of Clean has fed through our mobile phone chargers (they are the wires you see) from a power supply in the understairs cupboard so it looks a bit neater without all the plugs etc.

The print I got from a lovely etsy seller called Caramtaback - see her work here

The tins are souvenirs that I bought back from his recent trip away to Chamonix. They were full of sweets for the kids, but I've now claimed them as the kids have lost interest now they're empty, and besides they don't appreciate the vintage design references! I am still debating what to use them for but enjoying admiring them in their temporary home.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Last night and the ballet shoes

It was more than sewing the elastic into the shoes.

It was being enchanted by her 'joie de vivre' for everything she experiences. It was thinking of our future together and the woman she will grow into. It was pride over how she takes everything in her stride. It was about my love for her which there are no words for.

It was about being her Mum.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

These feel like bliss

These feel like bliss tonight after spending half of the day (only made it to 1.15pm) in these beauties.

Live and learn I guess.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Our exploding television

About a year ago our television exploded. Well actually it kind of went 'ppppffff', but the kids would have you believe it was a lot more dramatic. For a long while we lived with a little TV set borrowed from upstairs, but a couple of months ago funds allowed for us to purchase a new flat screen LCD version.

Having been so used to our new tiny little set when this monster arrived and was perched on our little pine trunk - well, I honestly shed a tear. It just seemed *so* out of proportion and I could never see how it would work. I (aka the Queen of Clean) was of course delighted with the new purchase (being a man), and set about convincing me that of course it would work. He announced he was going to build an alcove unit.

Now funds had already been stretched for the new TV and there was no way I wanted to throw good money after bad (as I saw it) on wood, doors etc for the alcove unit. So we decided to use an old pine wardrobe we had in the garage. I turned our old wardrobe into the above unit and shelf and even added two custom nooks for my Ikea wicker baskets. Not pictured because we just finished painting this unit tonight and it isn't safe to put them back yet - when in situ they hide all the ugly wires you can see. In them we keep Wii remotes and the like.

So he really did try hard to get me to come to terms with our new addition.

End result is that I have learnt to live with our new purchase and feel good about finding a new purpose for our old wardrobe.

On a separate note - here is another cheap art idea. I had this frame kicking about that the thought of choosing and printing five pictures to fit the slots was just too much to think about. So I gave it to my daughter with blank paper inserted behind it and asked her if she wanted to do a drawing of us all. Cheap and cheerful and stress free! She loves the fact that her art is on display in such a 'grown up' way.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Craft party and the Cath Kidston shop

Saturday was Yoyo's 6th birthday party. 11 girls creating 'Cosy Pets' from modelling clay. Lots of fun - I will post the finished result once it has dried properly and we have painted it. A huge thank you to my Mum, Sister and Mum's next door neighbour for the catering....can I use the working mother excuse that I just couldn't manage it alone?

Garlie & Ga (aka Granny & Grandpa) make all of the grandchildren's cakes every year - they have this book the kids pour through and choose their cake months in advance. I love the idea of that tradition carrying on....not sure how my parents feel about that??.........

And after all that 'good mum stuff' a little me time was required. Cue trip to the Cath Kidston factory outlet shop with my shopping partner in crime, Harry. Here they sell old season stock at reduced prices. I wanted to take some pics but wasn't sure what the etiquette was and if I would be thrown out - too much of a risk!

We loved it - and we were quite restrained. Harry made me laugh when she announced that Cath K ought to 'update her prints and make them more modern' - seems the classic 1950's design was lost on her! I bought the felt needle case above for £5 and the bag above (honestly I *really* did need a new bag) for £20.

A good weekend all in all. And whilst I was out I (aka the Queen of Clean) started painting these

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Thirsty animals

The best games are those that the kids create themselves with no prompts or suggestions from me.

This morning they found an old plastic orange tablecloth - this promptly became a desert, and a blue towel was quickly sourced to became the water. One more excited running off journey to the playroom to get the trusty basket of plastic animals and this 'thirsty animals' game was born.

Watching them come up with these ideas together - it's fab.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

On impulsive decisions

What can I say - I'm impulsive. It began one Friday evening with a glass of wine in one hand and a copy of Living etc magazine in the other.

Before I knew it I had talked I (aka the Queen of Clean) into pulling up the stair carpet. He even seemed quite enthusiastic about it.

This was about two weeks ago.

Current thinking is we will sand tops and paint the risers white, but I think we are going to be looking at them in their current state for another 6 months or so.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Not sure why but I'm loving these

Goldfish coasters from Anthropologie.

Perhaps it is the recent addition to the household? I won't be purchasing though because I have just never really got the point of coasters. I've always felt they send a slightly inhospitable message of 'be careful where you put the drink I've just given you because I don't want you ruining my stuff'.

And that's why most of my furniture is covered in ring marks when you look close.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

2 ways to make laundry more fun

1. Keep your washing powder in a container that makes you smile (inspired by the fabulous Chez Larsson)

2. Get your mother-in-law to do your washing.

I currently employ both tactics.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

This weekend I have been.....

Admiring my purchases from Ikea. I did mention that it would be nigh impossible to leave Ikea with just the white frames I needed for my postcards from the keep calm website. This teaset above also made it home with me - we have *a lot* of tea parties for various teddies/dolls/playmobil characters here so I am sure it will get a lot of use. It has been used for a number of 'hula hoop' buffets since its arrival.

Making snowflake gingerbread - even though it is September. The cutters were a souvenir from a recent trip to Hamburg and I wanted to try them out (they were bought as part of my 'What on earth am I going to do for the teachers at Xmas' ongoing saga). The kids joined in until they realised the Scooby Doo movie was on......I was then abandoned.

Another purchase from an impulse trip to Ikea on Friday night. 2 heart chopping boards for just £2.59, me and my sister shared a pack between us.

Discovering a fab farm shop about 2 mins away from me. We only moved here 18 months ago and are still discovering these treasures. Much more fun shopping here than the supermarket. They also do a nice selection of plants - 2 hostas made it home.

And most importantly I have been enjoying having I home from his trip away - my husband, the 'Queen of Clean'. We can all breathe a sigh of relief he is back.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

More cheap art

I am not gifted in the art department - I am sure its genetic, and any artistic flair has escaped me (Mum - how did that happen with your talent?). But I do love individual and unique things in my home which have some meaning to me - and I can't find those things across the pages of the Next Directory.

The picture below I made from my daughter's dress that I was too sentimental to get rid of. It was a really lovely A-Line dress in pale green linen with this applique house scene on it. It was age 12-18 months (she is 6 now!) and it was from.....Next. So I guess in this instance I did find inspiration from the Next Directory after all. She had it in her room at first but since moving here last year and needing to fill some wall space I have pinched it for downstairs.

No complaints so far.

I've also had a go making the picture below, inspired by Ali Edwards. The cut out butterflys I got from here - still lots left as they come in packs of 50 so need to think what I can do with them. The 3D frame was 99p from Ebay.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Enjoying today

Thinking of a use for this tin inherited from my Mum (currently its got tea lights in, but I'm sure I can find a better purpose for it). I can remember our christmas cake being stored in it when I was little.

And most importantly finishing work at 3pm, having time to do the school pick up and share watermelon smiles.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Too much of a good thing?

I love Cath Kidston prints - although I do have to repeat the mantra 'Less is more' when near one of her shops or browsing through the catalogue.

I think the hankies below at £6 are such great prints and a great way to introduce a touch of shabby chic into your home. And on a personal level, I think I have solved my ongoing dilemma of what to get the school teachers for xmas this year (yes I know it's only September).

Also some very sweet vintage badges (particularly love the London print ones) that are affordable at £4.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Free Flowers

We have a great perk at work - at the end of each week we are allowed to take home one of the four floral arrangements that have been used on Reception or in meeting rooms.

You just need to remember to put your name down early enough on the Monday, which I managed to do today - got some very sophisticated arum lilies coming my way this week.

The arrangement below has been going strong for about 3 weeks now - am not sure what the unusual flowers are on the top?

Anyway I'm loving how they co-ordinate (even though strictly speaking I'm not a fan of the co-ordinated look) with my green felt cushion on the leather chair.

I have two hydrangea bushes in my front garden and I'm feeling inspired to create something similar myself next year when they are back in bloom - white hydrangea base with blue agapanthus stems on the top perhaps.....


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