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diy

Craftiness, Our recycled home

DIY Rainbow Chalkboard Wall

24 January, 2013

Ramona has just learnt the joy of drawing on things other than paper. If things go deathly quiet you will be sure to find her tucked away in our lounge behind the curtain, scrawling all over the back of it. Last week I was at a friend’s place and our two poppets went missing for a good 15 minutes. We found them upstairs, a thick marker pen in each hand, COVERING each other’s faces in scribbles. (I even found some on Ramona’s bottom later on, as if they were looking for the softest, most receptive surface!) And just yesterday I walked past one of the only swanky plastered and painted walls in our whole home and spotted a fresh installation of orange crayon artwork. You have to admit, the graffiti lifestyle is pretty cool.

But, to keep us all happy we have dedicated a whole wall to her gangster ways.

Enter the DIY rainbow chalkboard wall.homemade chalkboard paint wall

I LOVE making my own chalkboard paint, it is SO easy and thrifty and means the whole world is your oyster in terms of colours.

You need:

A Wall
Different coloured acrylic paint
Cheap as chips tile grout
Paint brushes
A rapscallion tot with a piece of chalk in each fist

Add a table spoon of grout to half a cup of paint and mix well. Use masking tape to mask off the bits you don’t want the paint to go. You will need two layers of each colour. The genius of this homemade chalkboard paint is that it is super adhesive and sticks to anything, no sanding or priming needed.DIY homemade coloured chalk paint wall

Voila!

I am so pleased with our little chalk wall, it really keeps Ramona and her pals occupied, and covers up what was an exceptionally manky, pine cladded hallway.
Homemade Chalk Board paint wall

*dramatic sigh* “Walls, faces, curtains, bottoms… there are no limits to my artistic expression, Mum… I’ve just got to let it out… ” 

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Craftiness, Thrifty

Cinnamon Christmas Bird Ornaments

11 December, 2012


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!

Craftiness, Thrifty

DIY Cookie Cutter

29 November, 2012

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*

Craftiness, Thrifty

Easy Toddler Wings Craft

8 November, 2012

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!!

Craftiness, DIY, Thrifty

Homemade Rosehip Oil – a bit of thrifty foraging

16 October, 2012




*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.)


Craftiness, Thrifty

How to Make Popsicles – homemade molds and recipes

28 June, 2012

Hurrah, the sun has popped out this week meaning I have been able to test my latest invention. Yes folk, here are homemade popsicle molds! 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:How to make Popsicles - homemade popsicle mold and popsicle recipes

I can not explain how EASY this is, and how magically these popsicle molds 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. And depending on how hungry your children tend to be they can be large or small popsicle molds.

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. Here is my homemade popsicles recipe:

Delicious, easy and super healthy Popsicle Recipe – with yoghurt!
Take one cup of yoghurt
Take one cup of soft fruit – strawberries or bananas are classic.
Whip them up in a blender and pour into your molds.
These will last for ages in the freezer.

Homemade Fruit Popsicle Recipe
Take two cups of soft fruit – really any wills do
Blend it together.
If too thick, add a couple of spoons of water.
Pour into your molds.

Extras:
Throw in a handful of coconut oil or cream for added nutrition.
Add a slosh of sherry to the fruit if making these for adult friends.
Blend up your usual green smoothie- chuck that in and it will be a delight too.

Homemade popsicles are this easy my friends.

How to make popsicles

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? DIY  Ice lolly moulds? In New Zealand these would be Ice Block Moulds. Neither google nor Twitter came to the fore here – someone helpfully suggested “Lolly pop without a stick”. Gah. It is so confusing.

I think I am going to settle on popsicles. It is a bit old skool, but a classic. Have fun making your DIY popsicles mold! x

PS – What would you call them?