Thursday, 28 February 2013

Save energy - save money

I'm sure we've all heard the advice before, but here's a groovy little reminder on this neat infographic.

This infographic is provided by Find out how you can make your home warmer & save money by installing double glazing here.

Which of these measures have you taken?  I definitely need to get some balloons for my chimneys, the gale howls down there!

Disclosure:  I'm sharing this infographic with you because I thought it was cool and useful.  I am not affiliated with the company who produced it in any way.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Making Keepsakes from kid's artwork

I spent another lovely evening last night hanging out with Red Ted Art and all the cool crafty kids at a Google + Hangout.  This time we were sharing ideas for preserving kid's artwork, and boy were there some incredible suggestions.

Check out the video here and there's a full list of the tutorial links at the end of this post.

I shared a process that I've used once before to make my lace April Showers pendant, but I thought it would also work really well for making little keepsakes of Ruby's art work.

She's forever coming home with armfuls of pictures and paintings from school and quite simply there isn't room to keep all of them.

Using this simple method, you can use old bubble wrap to create a kind of laminated, plasticised finish to paper, which protects it and makes it durable.  You can then turn it into key rings, fridge magnets, jewellery pendants, coasters....all sorts of things!

In some ways I prefer it to using a laminating machine.  For a start off it's free!  It's a great way to recycle waste material, and it gives a different finish to laminate.  The end result is slightly opaque, and you get a lovely shadowy impression of the bubbles, which can work really well with certain images, picking up the circular patterns like with this apple tree keyring we made.  You can also cut it down to size much easier than the hot laminated material, without having to leave that ugly seal gap around the edges.

You simply need:

  • Your artwork
  • Old bubble wrap
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Iron

Layer a piece of greaseproof paper, followed by a piece of bubble wrap, then the artwork paper, then another piece of bubble wrap and finally a top piece of greaseproof paper.

Press down a hot iron on the paper for about 20 seconds until you hear the bubbles pop.

Leave for a minute or so to cool before peeling back the greaseproof paper.  Add more layers of bubble wrap until you have built up the thickness you require.

Once it's cooled, peel off the greaseproof paper and you're left with your artwork keepsake. Trim to size with scissors.

You can use a hole punch to make holes for keyrings or jump rings, or use adhesive magnet tape to make fridge magnets.

Check out all these other wonderful ideas for preserving artwork:

Red Ted Art's Paper baubles  - great to make as egg decorations for Easter
Playful Learner's Paper Bunting - gorgeous for a child's playroom or party
Plus 2 Point 4's embroidered pillowcase - sleep on your artwork!
Kids Chaos' plush toy - immortalise kid's artwork in their very own toy
The Imagination Tree's initial artwork - make personalised keepsakes to hang on the wall
Zing Zing Tree's glass jars - use as vases or for keeping mementos in
Fairy and the Frog's greetings cards - we all need cards, this idea would be great for Mother's Day too
The Crafty Kitty's Screen Prints - this is the tutorial I've been looking for! Make bags, Tshirts etc

What an awesome collection of inspiration.

What do you do with your children's paintings and pictures?  Do they get stuck on the fridge, and how long do you keep them for?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Fangtastic Red Nose Day Cookies

Sainsbury's challenged bloggers to come up with some tasty cookies to celebrate Red Nose Day, and never one to turn down a biscuit, we thought we'd have a go.

I used my fail-safe biscuit recipe which is by Rachel Allen.  Simple and quick to make, it produces lovely crisp, crumbly biscuits, which unlike a lot of homemade cookies will stay fresh in a tin for a few days - if they are not devoured before then.  As we have a dairy allergy in da house, I substitute butter for vegetable margarine.

We then got busy with some ready-made coloured icing, rolling and cutting shapes to make our faces.  It's a great product to use - like edible play-doh.  The features were stuck on using a little icing sugar and water paste and voila, here are our fangtastic cookies.

They would be perfect for a bake sale, to take to school or work to raise funds for Comic Relief on 15th March.  Or...

...Well, you could just eat them yourself!

While we're on the subject of Comic Relief, I'd love you to check out my Couch Coins Challenge and see if you can join in.  Every penny counts, so have a root around down the back of your sofa and see what you can find.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Red Nose Day - My Couch Coins Challenge to you

Unless you've been under a rock, you can't have failed to notice that Red Nose Day will soon be upon us.  You must also know that this year Comic Relief are celebrating their 25th anniversary.

A quarter of a century of raising money for causes here and abroad.  Now that deserves celebrating doesn't it?

We've set ourselves a challenge in our house, and to honour the Red Nose Birthday, we're going to raise £25.

I know times are tough, and I suspect that along with other charities, Comic Relief will have to work extra hard this year to persuade people to part with their cash.  That's why I'm not asking for sponsorship.  I'm not asking you to take money out of your purse or write out a cheque.

Instead, I'm asking you to have a hunt about, and donate any money you didn't realise you had.

Genius huh?

Myself and Ruby have been turning the house upside down.  We've hunted down the backs of sofas; upturned forgotten old handbags in the bottom of wardrobes, rifled through coat pockets and checked in lining for sneaky coins that have slipped through holes.  We've even been in the drawer of doom in the kitchen dresser.

It's been a bit of an eye opener really.  In a few weeks we've already beaten our target and currently have £27.99 waiting to be bagged up and taken to the bank.

We've sorted and stacked, counted and checked. It even turned into a bit of a maths lesson!

OK, I admit, we do pounce on Daddy when he comes home from work and empties his pocket change out, and that has been quite lucrative.  But on the whole, we've found an awful lot of cash just lying around.

I asked Ruby whether she thought it was better to have a pound languishing about down the back of the sofa...or would it be better to give it to Comic Relief so it could buy school books for a child in Ghana for a whole year?  Seeing the money in her hands, and realising what it could buy for someone else, made the desicion easy.

£5 will buy a mosquito net and help protect someone from deadly Maleria.  It's a no-brainer isn't it?

So please, have a hunt about.  Check your coat pockets and the bottom of handbags.  Gather what you find - you won't miss it - and please add it to my total here.  Just £1 really does make a difference.

Check out what the rest of the blogging community - AKA #TeamHonk are up to on their website.

Magpie Monday - Looking Glass

Morning lovelies.  I hope you all had fun playing over at Lucy's last week, I need to grab a coffee and sit down to read all the link ups.

I'm back from my holiday all refreshed and raring to go (she says through gritted teeth and piles of laundry).

This morning's find for your viewing pleasure is this art deco beveled over mantle mirror.

Apologies for the photo, but it is languishing, unhung waiting for it's playmates.

There was a small chip to the corner so I was able to grab it for less than a tenner.  Luckily the people in the charity shop had saved the chip and sellotaped it on, so I was able to glue it back in place and it's barely noticeable.

I is a proper hanging mirror unlike lots I seem to see which are converted dressing table mirrors - not that that bothers me.

I have a beveled circular one and a rectangular one already, so this angular shaped on will make a lovely addition to my collection.

This has been a long-term plan.  To collect up old mirrors and display them grouped together on a wall.

The trouble is, where to hang them?  I'm not one for excessive housework and polishing, so they need to be away from grubby hands.  My wide shouldered clumsy man has pretty much ruled out hanging them up the staircase and I suspect in the bathroom they'd get constantly splashed from the shower.

At the moment the favourite location seems to be at the top of the stairs, opposite the stair banister so they can be seen from the landing, but am I asking for 35 years bad luck if they all come tumbling down?

I need a few more before my plan is complete, I fear I shall be heading to Baycrazy sometime soon...

What glorious second-hand finds have you rescued lately?

Grab the badge and link up.

  Me and My Shadow

Monday, 18 February 2013

Magpie Monday - Flown the Nest

I'm on my holibobs this week, so the gorgeous Lucy is looking after Magpie Monday for me.

Hop over to her place to check out her stunning furniture makeovers, get some serious life envy, and link up your second-hand finds.

See you when I get back.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Warburton's Breakfast Challenge

Mums have to juggle twice as many tasks as business owners, directors and decision makers during the breakfast rush hour, according to new research.

The findings from family baker, Warburtons, reveal that between 7.17am and 8.30am each weekday morning, coined the ‘Breakfast Rush Hour’, busy mums face a constant series of domestic tasks and chores - from tactical strategies to get their children and partners up and helping children brush their teeth and hair, to orchestrating the family breakfast, getting outfits ready and managing the school run.

And while the scope of tasks and outcomes may differ, mums have to tackle an average of 9.8 challenges during this busy 73-minute window - compared to an average of just 4.2 tasks, which senior business people (men and women) face in their first hour and a quarter at work.

Phew!  It's no wonder I feel like I'm on the verge of a heart attack every morning.  I don't know what breakfast time in your house looks like but mine is pretty damned manic.

The Other Half is always long gone, left for work at about 6am, so the hellish morning routine of getting ready for school falls to me.  I've never been able to stomach breakfast first thing, so Ruby eats hers on her own, usually while I'm screaming around the house trying to get dressed/feed the dog/empty the dishwasher/check my emails/drag a brush through my hair.

My breakfast of choice on a school day would probably be a large gin and a bottle of Valium - or is that the other way round?  But apparently this is frowned upon by Foundation Year teachers and school gate mums, so I make do instead with a cup of builder's tea accompanied by screams of "hurry up, we're late" and "where are is your other school shoe/book bag/PE kit/lunch box/wellie boot?

I tell you, by 8:45 I'm ready to go back to bed again.

At least Ruby manages to have a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice, oblivious to the chaos going on around her.  To be honest, she's usually too engrossed in Nick Jr to notice that we should have left 10 minutes ago.

Next week is half term, and we're going away.  We'll be on a canal boat holiday, forcing us to slow down to a snail's pace and one of the things I'm most looking forward to is a relaxing breakfast each morning.  Luxuriously relaxing breakfasts of scrambled eggs on muffins with smoked salmon, bacon sandwiches on toasted wholemeal with brown sauce, hot buttered crumpets...

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day - what people usually fail to mention is that it's also the most stressful.

What does breakfast look like in your house?  Are you super-organised?  How do you cope with the morning rush?

Warburton's are compiling a book of tips and advice on how to cope with the stresses of family breakfasts, and if you submit a tip on their Facebook page before Monday 18th February 2013, you might even win a prize.

Head over there now.

Me?  I'll be waiting to read the book when it comes out in April!

Disclosure: Warburton's sent me a hamper of products to promote this campaign.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Get Alex Home

On Saturday I attended a charity ball for the Making Waves for Alex Fund.

It was an incredible night, full of emotion; tears and optimism.

It was the coming together of hundreds of people - many of whom had never met Alex Wood or his wife Tamsyn, but who had been touched by their story.

The story of a young husband and father, who's world has been shattered by a brain injury he suffered during a rugby game.  The story of how he has defied the odds, survived life-threatening injuries and operations, woken from a lengthy coma, how he is fighting every day to get stronger and more able.

A video montage was shown at the ball, and this explains it all better than I ever could. Please spare a couple of minutes to watch it here.

But this story is not only about what's happened so far.  It's about how Alex and Tamsyn and their four children are constantly kicked in the teeth by a failing system.

It's about what happens next.

Alex lives full time in a residential care home.  His injuries have left him blind, unable to walk and totally dependent on full-time care.  His family desperately want him home.  Alex desperately wants to be at home.

Nobody's disputing the excellent care he receives from the health service and the nursing staff.  But they don't love him like Tamsyn and the kids love him.  They can't light up that spark in his eye like I've seen Tamsyn does, simply by being there.

Is he going to get the encouragement and inspiration to get up and try and re-learn how to walk, left in his room for most of the day, or do you think it more likely he'd battle to get up from his chair to dance with his beautiful wife?  What do you reckon?

Is his management plan going to push him sufficiently, or is he more likely to achieve with a cheeky smile and a wicked glint in his eye that he got when Tamsyn unthinkingly used the expression: get him back 'up and running'?  He absolutely took that as a challenge!

He needs the care and love and support of his friends and family and he needs it now.  Research has shown that to make an impact, intensive rehabilitation and re-learning of basic skills needs to happen in the first two years.  What won't help him is to say in a residential institution where his day-to-day routine is punctuated merely by being fed his meals, being washed and dressed and meeting his basic needs.

Tamsyn is fighting tooth and nail to get her husband home, but their home is not suitable and needs to be adapted.

This is where it all falls down.  The family are living in rented accommodation.  They cannot afford anywhere else.  The system will not pay for adaptations to rented homes.  Yet they say they don't have anything else suitable.

Here's where this situation needs some common sense.  The government are constantly talking about budget cuts, spending smarter and austerity measures.  Well, this is a situation that makes no financial sense whatsoever.

It is costing a fortune to keep Alex in the residential home.  A place where he doesn't want to be.  His wife wants to care for him.  And guess what, she wants to do it full-time, unpaid, with no annual leave, no pension, no sick pay, no uniform, no training courses... How does this make any sense?

This wife and mother is doing what any one of us would do.  She is fighting for her family, for what's best for her husband.  At the moment he is only allowed minimal home visits.  At the very least, she would like him home every weekend until a more sustainable solution is found - even though their hearts break a little bit more every time he has to leave.

Are we going to let this mother fight on her own?  Or are we going to raise the bloody roof, make some noise, lobby politicians, raise funds and stand shoulder to shoulder with her until someone sees sense?


If you can, make a donation to the Making Waves for Alex Fund or buy a T Shirt to promote the message.
Share this and any other post you see labelled #getalexhome or #makingwavesforalex
Follow Tamsyn on Twitter and via her blog and let her know she's not alone.

Please. Let's make some waves.

Thanks to Sophie for permission to use her photos.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

New Look for Spring

OK, so we currently have snow on the ground again, but there are signs of life in the garden.  The daffodils and snowdrops are peeping out, heralding the imminent arrival of spring and hopefully warmer days to come.

It will soon be time to shed off the chunky jumpers, the layers and the hats and scarves.

My mind is turning to spring clothes, and I'm currently loving the romantic cream and lace on offer at New Look.

Perhaps before I go wildly shedding layers, I should ease myself into spring gently.  This lace trimmed jumper is perfect.

Lace Hem Jumper - £22.99

Team it with a cute denim mini skirt and cable knit tights, for those days when it's still a bit chilly.

Denim Rip Raw Edge Skirt - £14.99

For nights out with the girls, or maybe a date night, I love this cute cream lace belted playsuit.  Dress it up with metallic gold heels and a clutch.

Cream Lace Parisian Playsuit £24.99

If you're not brave enough to do the full-on lace look, there's plenty of clothes with just a hint, like this blue polka dot skirt, trimmed with lace.

Tokyo Doll Lace Trimmed Skirt - £16.99

Or for an even more subtle introduction to lace, how about this weekend shirt, trimmed on the shoulders.  I love how it taps into the handmade vibe and the fashion for embellishing clothes with crochet and lace - perfect if you haven't got the time or skill to do it yourself!

Lace embellished shirt £19.99
What are your favourite trends for this spring?  Are you looking forward to finally getting your pins out again?

Disclaimer: Featured post

Monday, 11 February 2013

How to make Seed Bomb Easter Eggs

If you're looking for a non-chocolate gift to give this Easter, then this may be just the ticket.

It's not difficult to make, you just need a little patience, so older children should easily be able to make them.

I think it's such a great present to give.  Imagine the fun the recipient will have stealthily seeking out areas of urban wasteland to brighten up, indulging in a bit of guerrilla gardening, and smiling that secret smile when the flowers start to bloom.  And frankly, who doesn't want an excuse to throw eggs?

Seed bombs, if you've not heard of them are a method of populating areas with plants.  The term as first coined back in the seventies when the Green Guerrilla movement first started.

For this make, you will need:

A carton of eggs
Some wild flower seed
Transfer letters (or if you have pretty handwriting, a non-toxic pen)
A large needle (darning type)
A candle

Start off by giving yourself a hernia blowing your eggs.  I did mine over a period of a week, saving the shells, otherwise I fear I would have blown some blood vessels also.  You basically need to prick a hole at each end of the egg and blow like billio.  Red Ted Art is braver than I and shows pictures of how to do it.

One tip, make sure you remove your lipstick first, because that just looks WRONG.

I chose white eggs from the Posh Hen company, and if you can get them fresh from the farm that's even better because they won't have a date stamp on.

If you wish, you can dye them pretty colours and this site has some great instructions for using natural, food based dyes.  However, I was quite taken with the pure whiteness.

Once your egg shells are empty, make sure you rinse them out thoroughly with warm water, and leave to dry both inside and out.  This might take overnight.

Next you need to seal up the top hole (pointy end of the egg).  Do this by dripping a drop of hot wax from a candle onto the top of the egg.  Once the wax has cooled and hardened you can neaten it up by scraping with your fingernail over the surface, and the hole should remain sealed.

At the rounded end, this will be where you fill with seeds.  You may want to make the hole a little bigger by carefully working your needle around the hole.

Next comes the part which takes a little patience.  You can use plain wild flower seeds straight from the packet (be sure to use indigenous ones), or like I have use this shake and rake stuff.  It's pre-mixed with a 'spreading medium' - that's sawdust to me and you.  It will help the seeds stretch further though.

This part takes a little trial and error.  You might find rolling some paper up into a little funnel helps, or pouring the seed mix onto a piece of paper and folding it up to pour (like how you clear up spilled glitter). But generally I just sprinkled pinches over the hole and poked it down!

Finally, when you have enough seed inside (you don't need to fill them completely, that would take you forever!) you need to seal the hole again with wax like before.

Then, you can leave as they are, or add mottos and words on.  I used one word motto which acts as the instructions for use too.  You can hand write this on, or if your writing is appalling like mine, use transfers.

I peeled off the label from the original egg box and added a Happy Easter label, ready for gifting.

Featured on Fun Crafts Kids 

Magpie Monday - the fine art of jumble sale-ing

It's been a full on action packed weekend, with my usual desolate diary rammed with girl's nights out, a charity ball, a lesson in how to drive (?) a canal boat...

Sadly, something had to give from the calendar and that was the carefully selected jumble sale I spotted advertised in the paper this week.

The precursor to Magpie Monday was a post I wrote on how to get the best bargains from charity shops - it still remains a popular post, so I thought I'd pass on my 'wisdom' for jumble sales too - they are a whole different beast.  I've been going since i was knee high to a trestle table, so hopefully I've learnt a thing or too.

Please don't let me put you off unduly.  They are great places to pick up fabrics; vintage clothing and all manner of exciting things.

Location, location, location

Unlike charity shops which often have stock shipped in from outside of the area from bag collections or recycling bin donations, jumble sales are very much a local affair.

You will find them in village halls, churches and school assembly halls.  Look out in the classified sections of your local newspapers for adverts, or check local 'what's on' guides online.  You may also spot flyers on parish noticeboards or PTA websites.

Basically, if the jumblie is happening in a village you'd consider moving to for school catchment, then it's going to have some nice gear.  To a certain extent, the donations may also reflect the organisation it's raising funds for, so expect to find lots of kid's clothes at a scout group one, decent bric-a-brac at a church sale (and usually homemade jam!), and check out the 'am dram' groups and operatic societies for avant garde clothing.  I don't much care who I give my 10p to, although I would draw the line at buying a teapot for a far right political group.  But that's just me.

It's all in the planning

Once you've located your sale (here's where you can copy grandma and get the highlighter out on the newspaper, much like people used to go through the Radio Times marking out highlights of the week), you need to make sure you arrive in plenty of time.  Village hall car parks that can just about cope with the weekly whist drive, are not geared up for the onslaught of the modern day jumblers - what?  You though it was only you who liked a bargain?  Make sure you get a good spot in the queue - yes, this is just like the Harrods sale, people queue.  Although I draw the line at camping overnight.

Cash is king

This is quite possibly the only place left in the country where you can buy something for 10p so make sure you have plenty of change.  Nobody will think you're cool waving a £20 note about.  Make sure you have loads of loose change, and put it in your pocket - there won't be the elbow room to root about in your handbag for your purse, and everyone will HATE you for it.

Keep some change handy to pay the entrance free - typically 20p-£1.  The seething mass of resentment and tutting behind you as you are slow off the mark paying your door money, and then fumble around looking for change will ensure you NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN.

If you go with a friend, it's polite to 'pay them in'.  Plus it's cheaper than a drink in the pub.

Every Man For Himself

You may have come with a friend, but just accept that once you get through that door, your killer instinct must kick in.  Agree to go your separate ways and meet up to pour over your spoils at the end.

It's dog eat dog, survival of the fittest, fortune favours the brave and every other cliche you can think of.

Don't take your kids with you if you can help it, they'll only slow you down, and very possibly get squashed.

Decide on your strategy and go for it, this is no time for faffing about.  I do: 1. Bric-a-brac 2. Linen and fabric. 3. Clothes then toys and books.  My eye sight is not good enough to read titles through rows of people three deep so I wait til the end.  If you can't get to the clothes first, then frankly you might as well wait.  They might start off neat and ordered, folded into categories on the tables, but in 2 minutes flat it will be a seething, swirling tide of garments, with flotsam and jetsam washing to the top, only to be sucked down deep into the pile again.  Wait a while and see what's thrown up.

All human life form

If you are only just about able to cope with the sanitised, Mary Portas'd charity shops, then I don't think you'll have the stomach for a jumble sale.  Personally I think the entrance fee is worth it just for the people-watching opportunities alone, but then I'm weird.  There may be odours.  It may be unpleasant - this is another reason not to take children unless you can bear the humiliation of loud exclamations of "Mummy, that man SMELLS".  I find a liberal squirt of perfume before I go in helps.  Sadly walking around with a nosegay or a hanky over your face is frown upon nowadays.


Your best bet is to grab and hold as much as you can.  Don't waste time paying for each item as you go,  grab as much as you want from each table, and pay in bulk.  If you're not sure, grab it, then step aside from the throng and have a closer look.  You can always put it back.

Those people who can empty a dishwasher by carrying ten mugs in each hand, looped through their fingers yeah?  Those are the sort of skills you need to practise.

Make sure you have bags too, otherwise you're wasting valuable time waiting for an octogenarian to find you an antique Safeway carrier and carefully fold each item into it.


Possession is 9/10ths.  If someone already has hold of one end of a tablecloth, then it's polite to let go.  Although, equally if you already have one of a pair of curtains in your arms, it's not the done thing to insist on buying the other one (lady, you know who you are).  I guess ultimately it's down to your own moral compass and whether you can sleep at night.


These vary wildly in both quality and availability, but the one commonality at ALL jumble sales seems to be weak tea.  If you must partake, ask for it strong and make sure you wash your hands before indulging in cake.


Once safely outside, sanitise your hands.  Then go home and shower.

Have you been to a jumblie lately?  Have I put you off??!!

If you have any second-hand purchases, I'd love you to link up and show.

Incidentally, my linky host subscription is up for renewal after 2 years.  I was staggered to see there have been 1627 blogs link up in that time!  Thank you for your support.

Me and My Shadow

Friday, 8 February 2013

How to care for vintage clothing

Today for your delectation, I'm properly delighted to have the amazing Emma from My Vintage over to talk to us about the wonders of vintage clothing, and very importantly, how to care for it.

If like me, you've snapped up vintage garb in a jumble sale or charity shop, and then had the smirk totally wiped off your face when you get home to discover it totally reeks, then read on my friend, all is not lost...

Greetings lovely readers and a big thanks to Liz for inviting me here as a guest... Some of you may already know that I run My Vintage and have been collecting and selling vintage clothing and vintage collectable for many years. I sell my vast range of goodies through my website and also in my shop here in Darwen, Lancashire.

Reviving and caring for vintage clothing is something I have to do on a daily basis, so I thought I would share a couple of my top tips for some of the trickier vintage clothes care problems!

1. Smelly fur coats 

This is probably one of the number 1 things I get asked about, and I can understand why! If you have ever smelled a very old fur that hasn't been stored properly then I am sure you will know what I mean when I say YAK! It's really not pleasant and no amount of deodorising sprays will help. And don't use Febreeze whatever you do! No, the best way to treat a smelly vintage fur is to freeze it! Pop it into a bin liner, seal it up and freeze for 1-2 days. Once removed and de-frosted you will notice a marked improvement as most of the nasties will have disintegrated. Fur always needs to be kept cool so get it out of the attic!

2. Dry clean only

Well, you can obviously just go to the dry cleaners, but that's expensive if you have several garments that need treated. Well did you know you can dry clean your vintage clothes at home? Yep! For this you need to buy dry potato starch. You can get this from some health shops and also online and you can get 1kg for less than £6 and that will last a while. You also need to clear a large area of floor and cover in plastic sheeting. You can use an old tarpaulin or cut an extra large bin liner down the sides to open out full length. The method is easy, just takes a bit of time and patience. Heat the dry potato starch in a pan, lay the garment flat on the plastic and then sprinkle the hot dry powder onto the garment. If there are any particular areas that are stained or smelly then add extra starch to these. Then it's just a case of rubbing the starch in slightly and leaving for couple of hours. When you return, the garment obviously needs to be thoroughly shaken so it's best to do this over the bath or ideally outside. Use a clothes brush if you can. This process really works and is great for many items of vintage clothing.

3. And finally...

Just a few points that might seem obvious but they are things I see happen a lot so be warned! Do not ever iron velvet - it will ruin! If it says handwash - handwash it and drip dry it over the bath! If you NEED to iron a delicate fabric, put a thin towel over it first. Never store vintage in plastic bags long term, boxes, trunks, cases etc are much better. Never keep vintage clothing in a damp environment. And last but not least - remember that a rip, tear or stain is not the end of that special vintage piece. Most of the time with a little bit of imagination, these damaged beauties can be reworked into something extra special.

For a huge selection of vintage and retro clothing, accessories, jewellery, gifts, homeware and collectables, visit and if you are local to Lancashire, why not come and visit our vintage shop at 2 The Circus, Darwen, BB3 1BT.

Oooh, one more thing, you can follow me on Twitter if you so wish! I can be found @emmabphilosophy

Over and out!
Em x

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Shwings Giveaway

What do you call shoes with wings?

'Shwings'.  Obviously.

We were sent a pair of these very cool footwear accessories from Find Me A Gift to road test.

I picked the  blue metallic ones as I knew they'd go nicely with Ruby's blue sequin baseball boots (secretly hoping I'd get to 'borrow' them for my Converse too).

They simply attach through the laces so will work on any lace up trainers, boots or shoes to add a temporary pizazz to your tootsies.

Mix and match, swap them, double them up...

Ruby wore them on Sunday for the first time and due to our hectic schedule, they were certainly put through their paces.  We were up bright and early and on the 8.30 train to London to see the film preview of Sammy's Great Escape (you should go see it at half term, it's brilliant).  After face painting, balloon modelling and general popcorn stuffing, it was off to China Town.  We popped into the Chinese Centre to check out their New Year celebrations, then we strolled through China Town and stopped for lunch.

My shoes are better than your shoes, ner ner na ner ner

After that, it was off to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, before the long journey home.

After about a million steps, escalators, on and off tubes and trains all day, the Shwings were holding their own.  I smiled to myself every time I heard passers-by comment 'cool shoes' or people turn around to look at them.

They were a real talking piece with tube travellers asking where we got them from and Ruby obligingly cat walking them for everyone.

Home at last

You too can get your hands on a pair because Buy Me A Gift are giving one lucky reader a pair of their own (share them with your kids if you must).

To enter, visit the site and leave a comment here saying which colour you'd like to win.  We'll do our best to make sure that the lucky entry chosen at random wins their choice of colour (subject to availability).

For an extra entry, follow Find Me A Gift on Twitter and leave a comment here to say you've done so.

For a further entry. follow them on Facebook and leave a comment here to say you've done so.

For another entry, pin this post on Pinterest and leave a comment here with the link.

And finally, for one more entry, tweet the following " I'm entering to win a pair of Shwings with @missielizzieb here"

Closing date is 12:00 noon on Friday February 15th 2013.  UK entries only.  You MUST leave a method of contact with your entry.  Any anonymous comments without a twitter/email address will be invalid and will be removed.

I reserve the right to pick another winner if the first is does not respond within 5 days.

Disclosure: Review item and prize kindly supplied by Buy Me A gift.

Wednesday's Wardrobe

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Cutting to the facts: five things you didn’t know about your knives

With the right pro chef’s knife, even the least seasoned foodie can slice and dice with just a few shakes of the wrist. Indispensible to cordon bleus and aspiring home cooks alike, they come in all shapes, sizes and models. Dexterous yet solid, they are something that every self-respecting culinary crusader should own. But how clued up are we when it comes to or knives? One leading supplier of kitchen accessories Chefs Knives Online explores some of lesser known facts about our kitchen knives.

A sharp knife is actually less likely to cut you

Although you would naturally think that a razor-sharp blade is more likely to cut you, in actual fact, you’re more likely to have a mishap with a blunter knife, because you would need to apply greater force to cut through anything. This means there is a greater chance that it could slip and draw blood.

It’s all in your cutting technique...

No seriously, it is. The guys at Chefs Knives Online recommend you tuck your fingers tightly under the handle and use the knuckles on your other hand as a guide for the knife. Have a look at how you hold the knife. Is it correct? Many of us do get it wrong...

Not every knife will be right for you...

We cooks often seek inspiration from each other, and naturally, offer one another our own recommendations and advice on everything from recipes to cooking instruments. But it’s important to consider that, while one knife can work well for a friend, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will for you. Before you make a purchase, be sure to test it out. Pick it up; does it seem to be weighted to the back of the handle or the blade? Does it feel unsteady when you press down? These are things that you need to look out for.

You should never wash your chef’s knives in the dishwasher

We’ve probably all done it, but we shouldn’t. This is for two reasons: firstly, the harsh detergents and intense heats will do nothing to help maintain the overall condition of your knives. Secondly, the last thing you want is for them to be knocking around against your pots and pans because they’re liable to chip.

The weight of the knife can be important

What do you value most in a knife: agility or power? If you’re a fan of the latter, then you are likely to want a chunkier knife – because it will cut through the food easier, with greater force. But if you are a cook who looks for dexterity in your utensils, then you’ll want a lighter knife. As one of the UK’s leading suppliers of professional chef knives, Chefs Knives Online have a fantastic range of both types – including a popular range of Global knives. Clickhere to explore the full range.

Guest post.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

How to make rustic twig heart wreaths

Today I joined in with Red Ted Art's Google Hangout again.  It's lots of fun, and this week we shared ideas for stick or twig crafts.

We never come back from a walk in the woods or down the park without some treasures - generally sticks! So this was really great for me to find some new ideas.

Take a look at the Hangout for all the crafts, including my demo of how to make the heart wreaths.

For this project we used bunches of long twigs - weeping willow or silver birch is ideal.

Simply take a bundle of similar length twigs in your hang and secure together near the end.  You can use wire; string; garden twine or cotton to do this, whatever is to hand.  If you want to disguise it, you can wrap around some smaller twigs when you've finished.

Holding the secured end in one hand, use your other hand to divide the twigs into two equal sections, then with a gentle twisting motion, bend it over to make the heart shape, catching in the top ends and secure at the bottom end as before.

I like to leave some ends loose to make a tail.  Tidy up by gently pushing and weaving any loose ends on the heart shape back into place.

For Valentine's simply tie with a big red bow and use to decorate your door.

You can make mini ones as present decorations or stick them to Valentine's cards.

For children's crafts they can embellish the wreath with dried leaves, fabric flowers, pom poms, sticky jewels, wrap strings of old beads through...the sky's the limit!

These are so simple to make and are seriously addictive.  I'm running out of places to put them!

You can also spray paint these or kids can paint them with brushes.  Metallic coloured ones look great as Christmas decorations too.

For more tree inspired crafts you might like my Silver Birch Bark Candle Holders and my Glittered Sticky Buds.  

Don't forget to head over to Red Ted Art and check out the links for all the crafts featured on the video:

Has this inspired you to get out in the forest?  What stick crafts do you enjoy?

Also linking up with Ta-dah Tuesday.

And #GetYourCraftOn