Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pimp my Pumps!

If you're looking for a creative activity to do over the summer, then I can wholeheartedly recommend pimping your pumps!

I reckon it would be great for kids to do with their mates on a play date, or even as a unique party activity - instead of the ubiquitous party bag, they could take home their own individual hand-crafted shoes!  Course, you'd have to get their shoes sizes first, but just ask it on the invite - simple really.

You will need:

A plain pair of pumps (mine cost £2.50 from Primark)
DYLON 3D paints (choose from Puff; Pearl or Glossy)
An apron to protect clothing

At only 4 years old, Ruby did get a little frustrated with herself to start with.  The application of the paint requires the right amount of squeezing of the bottle whilst drawing - a bit like icing a cake.  Older children will have no problem with this, and Ruby did get the hang of it after watching me.

I kept my design simple, following the lines of the stitching, then adding some dots.  I love the 3D effect of these paints - the dots look like little jeweled studs.

Ruby is still at the ages where 'more is more' so her design is a little...err...freer!

She loves her ones better than my attempt though and has proudly gone off to nursery wearing them today.  Who says the left and the right shoe need to match?!

How would you pimp yours?

Disclosure: for information please see my disclosure page.

Linking up with Ta-Dah Tuesday! and Kids Get Crafty

Cool Kitchen Conversion Chart

I dunno about you, but every time I am using a recipe book and need to convert Fahrenheit to Centigrade, or work out how many ounces the are to grams, I have to boot up the pooter.

Well, I think I've found the answer in the form of this funky, retro, free printable chart.

I just love the typography, the retro colours and the whole vintage feel.

It's perfect for crafting with too - imagine it printed onto a canvass for some kitchen wall art, or use some image transfer to make a tea towel. You could get some specialist paper to print it onto and make shrinkie fridge magnets, or decal paper to funk up some plain mugs.  So many possibilities...

It's produced by Everest (the double glazing people) who are of course fronted up by my mate* Craig Doyle, so what's not to love?!

What do you think?  Cool huh?  Any more suggestion on what I could make with it?

* May not be true, but cue gratuitous shot of me hugging a sleb.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just thought it was cool and wanted to share it with you. x

Monday, 30 July 2012

Magpie Monday - Rings and Tings

This week I've mostly been obsessing about the Olympic Rings.  Watching that incredible, awe-inspiring, spectacular two-fingered salute to the Conservative government on Friday night.

The Olympic ceremony, whilst totally bonkers, was a thought-provoking, acid trippy glimpse into our social history, highlighting everything of which we were once proud, but which has slowly but surely been eroded away, dismantled and crushed by various administrations.

It was a celebration of our culture, of our hearts and soul and I well and truly doff my cap to Mr Danny Boyle.

Since then, I've been glued to the telly. For a not-very-sporty person, I'm quite amazed at my interest in swimming, cycling, football, hockey, gymnastics, archery and the totally bonkers game of handball.

My offerings to you this week are less sporty, but they are ring shaped (tenuous link huh?).

I bagged three costume rings in my local charity shop for £1.50 a pop.  Three beauties for less than a fiver.  I'm particularly pleased because one of them still had it's Accessorize label on showing it's original price of £12.

Which is your favourite?

Have you rescued anything this week?  If you've bought or found anything pre-loved, please grab the badge and link up below.  Take a moment to visit the other blogs linked up - you will find some gems. x

Me and My Shadow

Friday, 27 July 2012

Thrifty Gourmet - Pea Shoots

Anyone who watches Masterchef will know that no meal is properly dressed without a garnish of pea shoots, but where to get hold of these poncey pre-pubescent peas?

Well, some of the larger (and more upmarket) superstores do sell them, bagged and washed in spring-water - presumably handpicked by fair maidens.  But you don't need to spend silly money for these super-foods, it's really quick and easy to grow your own for a fraction of the price.

For the tenderest, pea-flavoured shoots, get hold of a cheap packet of pea seeds from the garden centre, or you can pick them up for under a pound in discount homeware stores.

Cheaper still, you can use dried peas from the supermarket at around 70p a bag, but these tend to be Marrowfat peas and they grow a slightly tougher shoot.  It's not a problem though if you pick them really, really young.

500g of dried peas will keep us in shoots for the whole summer and beyond

Start by soaking the peas overnight in cold water.  This will help them to germinate faster.

Sew in shallow trays, with a thin layer of compost on top.  Sew thickly - no need to worry about spacing here, the more the merrier!

Keep moist and you should have delicious pea shoots ready to cut in around 10 days.

They can be eaten raw - add to salads and use as a garnish.  Or quickly blanch them in hot water to use as a vegetable.

Pea shoots are highly nutritious.  They are low in fat and contain high levels of vitamins A, C and Folic Acid.

Go on, give peas a chance.

Do you have any thrifty gourmet tips?  I'd love to hear them.

Pizza Party!

To celebrate the launch of their sizzling new Mexican range of take-away pizza Domino's sent us all we needed for a true Mexican fiesta party.

We haven't had Mexican weather sadly of late, but finally the sun came out and we were able to don sombreros, fly some flags and bash merry hell out of a sweetie filled pinata!

Aww Pops, let the kids have a go!!

Domino's limited edition Mexican range is available to order now, with a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian.

Each pizza is drizzled with cool sour cream to balance out the spicy heat, making for a delicious pizza that the whole family will enjoy.

Some like it hot though, so they've also come up with the Mexicano Stuffed Crust - a filled crust with green and red chillies, mozzarella and garlic and herbs.

Make sure you grab a pizza the action this summer!

Disclosure: We were sent a Mexican-themed party pack by Domino's.  No financial reward was received. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Life outside the 9-5 - Win with Fat Face

Fat Face have a fantastic competition running at the moment over on their Facebook page.  All you need to do is post a photo of yourself or your family enjoying some free time.  It can be whatever you enjoy doing: chilling out; going for a picnic; playing sport...whatever.

Oh how I wish being a parent was a 9-5 job!  Still, when I do finally get some time to myself here's what I like to do.

Dress: Brooke Global Leaves Maxi from Fat Face.  Pumps: Karo Stripe Trainers from Fat Face

Yes, after bath time, putting Ruby back to bed for the 38th time, clearing up after dinner, feeding the dog, putting the laundry on etc etc who doesn't need a large glass of wine?!!

The dress from Fat Face is super cool - even though it's fully lined.  Totally unrestricted attire to relax in.  The pumps are comfy and look great with anything - this is definitely an outfit for enjoying life outside the 9-5 in.

If you upload a photo and enter their competition, you could be the winner of the grand prize of a weekend of a lifetime.  This includes hire of a retro camper van, a stay in a vintage Airstream caravan, windsurfing lessons and £500 Fat Face vouchers.  How cool??  There are also weekly prizes available.

I've entered, so why don't you?

As an added bonus, if you leave a comment here telling me what your favourite pastime outside of the 9-5 is, you could be picked as a winner here too.  Fat Face have kindly given me a £100 gift card to give away to one of you lovely lot.

So, just leave me a comment telling me how you relax, and remember to leave a method of contact.

For an extra entry please tweet: "See @missielizzieb's comp to win £100 Fat Face voucher http://ow.ly/cu0RL & check out their #lifeoutside9to5 http://ow.ly/cu0qi" and leave a comment to say you have done so.

UK entries only.  Entries must be received here by midnight on 19th August (same closing date for Fat Face's Facebook competition). Winner will be drawn at random.

Also linking up with What I Wore Wednesdays 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Elephant Parade - art inspired craft

When we were on our fabulous holiday at Martinhal in Portugal (you can read all about our amazing trip here), we were lucky enough to catch the last few days of a touring exhibition.

The 'Passion' exhibition was a collection of 18 large-scale elephant sculptures, each uniquely decorated by an individual artist, to represent their collective passions.

This outdoor cultural feast really inspired Ruby as she chased around the resort trying to spot them all and discussed each one, trying to work out her favourite.

There was also an interactive sculpture on the central square which children were invited to add their hand prints to in exchange for a small donation to charity.

I loved the accessibility and approach to art at Martinhal and it really sparked Ruby's enthusiasm.  So much so that I agreed to her repeated requests to try and reproduce the sculptures (on a much smaller scale obviously!) when we got back home.

It became something of a labour of love, with lots of stages and drying time, but it was lovely to have a project that we could keep coming back to, and watch the progress as it developed.

I can't take credit for the milk bottle elephants - that has been around for a while, but it fit our purpose perfectly.  Simply cut the top section of a plastic milk carton just below the bottom of the handle (this forms the trunk).  Then cut out semi-circular shapes to form the legs and re-use two of these off-cuts to trim down to make the ears.  Finally, cover in papier mache of newspaper and watered-down PVA.

Ruby quickly decided that the preparation stage was toooo boring, and could I please let her know when it was time to decorate them.  I can't say I blame her really, I'm the same with DIY. Filling; sanding and priming? Pfft. Gimme a shout when it's time for colour charts and scatter cushions.

Just like the exhibition, we made each elephant unique, with Ruby deciding on different methods of decoration and embellishment.  First, each one was painted with a background colour.  If you're going to try this, I'd recommend getting some proper acrylic paints as they covered so much better and gave a better finish than poster paints.

More waiting between coats, and finally they were ready to decorate.  Time for Ruby's favourite activity - sticking!!

Now they're all done, we're having fun moving them around the house, and finding different locations for them to brighten up.

We LOVE our sculptures.  Our favourite is the shell one -we've named her Michelle (geddit?).  Covered in seashells we collected on the beach, this might not be the most aesthetically pleasing one of the bunch, but it's a fabulous lasting reminder of our wonderful holiday.

Why don't you have a go at your own elephant parade - you may never throw another milk carton in the recycling bin again!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Magpie Monday - Tutti Fruiti

Last week I spotted this cute little vintage kids dress hanging forlornly amongst the slogan emblazoned children's T shirts and Dora the Explorer pyjamas.

The bold retro fruity print really struck me, but as a size 18months dress, it was never going to fit my 4 year old!  Nevertheless, I handed over my £2 and brought it home.

Quick-unpick at the ready, I took the dress apart, whizzed up a simple channel at the waist, popped some elastic in and hey-presto Ruby has a new twirly whirly skirt.

She also commandeered the vintage green shades I'd bought for myself for a quid.  What do you reckon, does she look cool or what?  She certainly thinks so - little poser!

What second-hand items have you rescued lately?  Grab the badge and link up.

Me and My Shadow

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Matalan's Yummy Mummys

So, I agreed to take part in Matalan's monthly style challenge.  If I'm totally honest, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, but it sounded fun - find yourself a outfit for £50 or less.

The chance to shop for myself, without looking at kid's clothes is a luxury in itself, and it was glorious just mooching about the aisles of grown up clothes, unhindered by demands for Hello Kitty drinking bottles or hair slides.

I did find it a bit tricky to compile a whole outfit.  I'm not sure if it's just my local branch, but there didn't seem to be anything in my size.  There were some really, really beautiful clothes, but not for me.  I think next time I'll shop online.

At Britmums Live I had been coveting Eliza Do Lots shoes, so was keen to find a pair of them.  They do them in a beautiful blue but sadly the only on in my size was...the left one!  We hunted high and low for the right one and I even got an assistant to help, but to no avail.  It remains a mystery.

Anyhow, I am pretty happy with the outfit I came up with.  The brief was for a 'summer day out'.  As they don't do flippers and wetsuits, I went for trousers.  To me a summer day out is a BBQ at friends, a lazy sunday pub lunch or a trip to the park (although admittedly I might ditch the towering shoes for that).

I've not worn coloured denim before, but I LOVE these skinny jeans.  So much so that I've since logged on and bought two more pairs in their sale - in on-trend sorbet colours, one lilac and one pink. Check them out - from £8 in their sale!!

I found that the sizes do come up on the small size - it doesn't do much for the ego to find you have to buy a size bigger, but just so-as you know if you're ordering online.

My challenge was further hindered by discovering most of what I bought wasn't in their online shop, so I can't show you - I swear, my local store must exist in it's own parallel universe. One complete with one-legged shoplifters.

Anyhow, what do you think?  Whole outfit including shoes, scarf and necklace for less than £50.  Not bad eh?  I'll try to show you what I bought, or close as I can to it in their online store.

Yellow striped T cost me £4 in store, similar available online for £2 (the same design as mine but in green is here for £3).

The blue skinny jeans cost me £16.  They no longer seem to be available online, but you can get them in other colours currently at half price of £8.

Again, the scarf isn't on the site, but this cost me £5 and the necklace £5.

Finally, the shoes. LOVE the shoes, even though they weren't my first choice.  These cost me £18 but you can grab em at only £9.

If you like my choice, please pop over and vote for me - just write 'Me and My Shadow' in the comment section on the Matalan blog

Ta very muchly, and good luck to the other gorgeous bloggers who are taking part - I think we all rock!