Washi tape ideas 101 – Summer Garden Lanterns Tutorial

We’ve been working on our back yard for a while now and decided to buy a wooden bench so that we can sit out and enjoy the summer evenings.

As well as making some robust cushions I’ve been working on some little garden lanterns made from jam jars, to light the way on summer nights. I’ve posted a lot of washi tape ideas lately but this is my fave!

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Want to make your own?

You’ll need:

A clean sticker free jam jar

Some fine wire

Washi tapes

Scissors

(Optional beads)

A tealight

Start with your jam jar

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Add washi tape in rows or stripes, you can leave a gap for the night to shine through or cover the whole jar, whatever takes your fancy

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I’ve done stripes

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Take your wire and cut roughly half a metre, folding in half

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Wrap the wire twice around the jar and twist at the side, then create your handle, tuck the handle wire under the wire wrapped around the jar to secure in place and twist firmly to make a sturdy handle (I added beads but you don’t have to, just be careful to make a long enough handle so it doesn’t get really hot!

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Slip a lit tea light in there (carefully!) and enjoy!

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Working Mummy Style – Spring Wardrobe Revamp Tutorial

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A while ago I read about the bin-bag method of editing your wardrobe and decided to do this myself as I knew I was burying my head in the sand holding onto some things either for sentimental reasons or ‘do you know how much that cost me’ reasons.

With the bin bag method you essentially:

1 – put every last thing you own in a bin bag so your wardrobe is totally empty
2 – plan a week’s wardrobe and take out the items you need
3 – take out more items as you need them
4 – sort bag for any seasonal pieces to store away
5 – Take the rest to the charity shop

I’m not gonna lie, it was hard work, but well worth it to see the items you think you love are often the least worn, if it’s not earning its keep consider selling it or gifting it to a charity shop!

Here’s my run down of the two weeks, and how I got my wardrobe down to roughly 30 items, including work wear, leisure wear and occasion wear, much more manageable for a busy working mam who needs to throw together outfits for meetings, days out at the park, work events and the odd wedding and party!

These are just two of an embarrassingly large number of bags I filled!

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I was then left with this, scary!

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I planned my outfits for the coming week, three days of workwear and three days of casual stuff for days at home with Joss, as well as one outfit for an evening out.

Here are a couple of examples of typical workwear stuff

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And home wear

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I then took items from the bags as and when I needed them, and at the end of the two weeks still had two bags full, I edited them for out of season stuff, folded them neatly and packed up the rest for the charity shop. Over 20 items were bagged for charity. The out of season gear went into this Cath Kidston clothing bag to protect them:

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Accessories were hung into two storage systems, one from Ikea for scarves and belts, the other for my costume jewellery. Now I can see exactly what I have and choose pieces to accentuate my outfits
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Shoes slotted into this storage hanger

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Bags went into this black box

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Finally I was left with this capsule wardrobe:

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So my wardrobe edit was been pared back to include just these items:

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So what’s missing?

Editing out old clothing, clothing that no longer fit and clothing I no longer loved meant I could see everything I have in one place.

This meant I could identify gaps for the coming season.

I decided I could use a new pair of pumps, a skirt for evenings out and another pair of black work trousers. I knew I needed just three items, so rather than buy ten impulse purchases I spent £90 on three things that I love, that build on what I have and focussed on quality, not quantity.

This is what I went for, the black work trousers from my workwear photos above, this skirt:

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And these pumps

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I believe in spending more on items I will wear again and again, like my workbag, it’s been with me for six years, was expensive but is used daily and just gets better with age

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This Vivienne of Holloway dress which I adore, and am linking in to the Weekend Portait Photo Linky with this one as I love the day it captures so well!

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Expressions - Actually Mummy...

And these Tatty Devine brooches that always get a compliment

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And finally, my top tips:

If you love it but don’t wear it introduce it into the fortnight, if you’re not reaching for it then it’s probably not right for you

Work out some storage solutions that work for your items

and look to fill the gaps with quality, not quantity
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My Low Sugar ‘Pack a Punch’ Toddler Flapjack Bars

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We love to eat these snack bars and adding flour means they hold together with less crumble so they’re really portable too. These are apricot and raisin but they are lovely with dates, prunes or dried berries too! Honey keeps them chewy but can be omitted for even less sugar. Why ‘pack a punch?’ Because they’re chock full of dried fruit and banana to keep you going on a busy day!

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Ingredients

100g butter (toddlers could often use the extra fats but you can use light spread for grownups)
100g soft, stoned dried apricots chopped roughly
30g raisins
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
Large tablespoon self raising flour
2 tbsp honey (or fresh apple juice if preferred)
250g porridge oats

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
I make this in one pan, transferring into a silicone tray, if using an ordinary flapjack tray grease with additional butter.
Warm the butter in a saucepan and add the honey or juice, warm gently for a minute to loosen the honey, then turn heat off.
Add the chopped apricots and raisins, and mashed banana and mix well
Measure out the oats and mix self raising flour through them
Tip floury oat mix into the pan and mix well so the oats start to soak the moisture and look golden, the flour should all mix through.

Tip the mix into your flapjack tray and spread out, pressingly gently with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

Take out to cool, when cool turn out and slice into bars. Store in an airtight container and eat within 3-4 days.

Enjoy!

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

The Fastest Ever Leftover Potato Pancakes

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Ingredients

4 medium sized left over (cooked) potatoes roughly mashed

A splash of milk

1 large egg

5 heaped tablespoons flour

Oil to grease pan

These were a thrown together last week hence the hazy instructions but I’ve made them since and they’re fool proof!

I usually cook extra spuds to make potato salad or top up my work lunches as I am trying to cut down on bread.

I mixed the mashed potato with a beaten egg and added the flour mixing until it looked fairly smooth. I added milk until the mixture became loose, you want it to be the thickness and consistency of american pancake batter.

I greased the frying pan with a little oil and on a low heat poured all of the mixture out flattening with the back of a spoon until a cm in thickness. After four minutes it was ready to be flipped over, and another four minutes later I turned it out and let it cool for 30 seconds and cut into wedges to serve with mayo.

A fast and tasty lunch!

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Woodland Themed Nursery Fabric Picture Tutorial

I’m finding that it’s all very well and good having this free time to relax and get involved in some crafting but there’s really not much that I ‘need’ to make at the moment, we’re stocked up with birthday cards and the likes so I decided to turn my hand to making some birthday gifts.

This little framed mixed-medium picture was thrifty and fun to make.

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Perfect for a toddler or young child’s room I hope that its recipient will like it!

If you’d like to make one yourself I suggest checking out charity shops for a similar embroidery hoop, I think they make really sweet frames for these fabric pictures, painted or plain they look good with a ribbon to hang them!

Materials

I started with an embroidery hoop (50p in a charity shop), some twine and little buttons and a selection of fabrics from my own stash, my sewing machine, but you can do much of it by hand, and some red project paint left over from this project. I had the little squirrel iron on patch from a set from H&M that I bought to decorate some plain t-shirts for Joss, so this one cost about 40p.

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Base fabric

I selected this bright yellow flower print base fabric as it is pretty robust.

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I drew around the outside of my hoop to give a guide for cutting the excess fabric, then drew around the centre piece to mark out the workspace I will be adding embellishment to.

Theme

Then I laid out my various bits and bobs to go apply to it as I went along. I decided on bunting and flowers with the woodland squirrel as these are pretty safe toddler themes, and as I prefer brights for a little one’s room I went with blues and reds to complement the yellow.

I cut a cardboard triangle to use as a template for my bunting flags, drew around it and cut out seven flags.

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Getting started

I stitched the bunting flags in place

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Then I cut two lengths of twine which I overlaid with a few stitches at inch intervals to hold in place
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Embellishments

I made a fabric yo yo as a flower embellishment, I love yoyos, they’re very simple. There’s a great tutorial here, but basically you cut a circle of fabric and leaving a long tail of thread as you start fold and tack a quarter of an inch under on the wrong side of the fabric as you go with a needle and thread, once you reach where you started hold both ends of the thread and pull tightly to gather the fabric, then knot the ends of the thread and neaten with scissors leaving as it is or in my case adding a small red fabric heart to cover the hole where the yo yo fabric gathers in the middle.

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I cut fabric hearts and fabric flower shapes by cutting more circles and then cutting out notches to form petals, layering where I fancied and adding button centres to add interest, I decided to glue some in place and stitch others to add to the homespun effect.

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Finishing touches

Finally I ironed my little squirrel motif in place.

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Once I’d trimmed the yellow fabric back and tightened the frame using the screw fix I decided it needed a little lift

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I painted the frame red and as I didn’t have ribbon I crocheted a strand of single crochet to add a loop to hang up the frame (I am a great believer in using what you have to hand)!

Tada!

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Thrifty-Thursday-Badge

Fancy a new hobby? How to get started with crafting

My craft space is coming along nicely and I was telling a friend about it this week, she said she’s always wanted to do something crafty but doesn’t know where to get started. I thought I’d blog about how I fit crafty activities into my daily life, something I managed to do with a newborn, whilst studying and now whilst working and parenting, as it’s important to me to do something that I find relaxing, productive, fun and that brings some colour into my life!

1) Start with a small project

You can dip into a small project over short periods of time, nap times are great for small projects as you are also closer to a sense of satisfaction at having finished something! This felt baby mobile was the first thing I made after I had Joss, it gave me a small sense of purpose during nap times when I didn’t want to sleep and occupied my mind which I sometimes needed when I was feeling anxious as a new mother

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2) Wrap it up

Package up your project in a zip lock bag so you can quickly pop back to it, I sometimes have a couple of bags on the go and take one to work to spend time on over my lunch breaks

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3) Re-use and save

Try to use what you have at your disposal, you don’t need to spend as lot to find a cathartic hobby! Take these greetings cards I blogged about last week, made from recycled wrapping paper I didn’t need a lot to make something special

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4) Take to a book

Look at craft literature, magazines are great, they often come with a project inside, like this month’s Homemaker. I made this cushion using materials that came with the magazine, Joss loves it, I got loads of inspiration from the book and learned a new skill, soft toy making! Better still, visit your local library, many have a craft section and with a photocopier on site to copy and enlarge any patterns you may find a gem!

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5) Try to make a little time every day

You’d be surprised how a small project works up pretty quickly with even just ten to fifteen minutes a day, and by how relaxing picking up a project can be! This is a longer term work in progress of mine, the crochet blanket in the background, so far I’ve put about three hours in over many days, it’s so colourful it’s a joy to return to after a busy afternoon with Joss!

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What craft would you like to try and why? Or if you’re yet to dip your toe in the water what’s stopping you?

Thrifty eats: tasty pea and bean burgers

As well as being in utter chaos after three weeks of working on my dissertation the cupboards are bare, but I’m continuing my mission to try to eat well for less and so the last meal before the big shop to get stocked up again was these pea and bean burgers.

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I took a tip from Jack Monroe about rinsing cheap baked beans to get rid of the sugar and sauce and have nice plain white beans to work with, in the absence of cannellini beans these did just as well!

Ingredients:

1 400g tin baked beans rinsed well

1 400g tin kidney beans rinsed well

A handful of mange tout chopped finely

A teaspoon of cumin

A teaspoon of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Teaspoon of plain flour to make shaping easier

 

Cooking Instructions

Not really cooking instructions at all these are SOOOOO easy!

Bring the baked beans and kidney beans to the boil in a mug of water then turn down and simmer for five minutes.

Add the mange tout a minute before the end.

Drain and allow to cool for five minutes.

Stir the spices through well and then either use a potato masher or blender to mash the beans until you have something close to the texture of mash potato (I prefer the masher as I like to leave some beans whole for more bite).

I get ten small burgers from this mix, with floured hands shape ten rough balls of mixture and flatten each slightly to form a burger shape, I tend to freeze half to cook later from frozen and the portion we’re eating goes on a lightly greased baking tray for 12-15 minutes until golden and crisp outside and soft inside

Serve in rolls, with wedges or salad, or take to work cold for a quick nutritious lunch on the go!

 

 

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Baking together

A big first this week, Joss and I baked together for the first time. Whenever we go to town we pop to a popular coffee shop I won’t name and Joss gets an oatmeal apple and raisin cookie. We decided to have a bash at our own minus the apple (it was a just using what we had in the house kinda day!)

Lots of weighing and mixing followed, a bit too much cinnamon was tipped in but we love it so that worked out ok, and in fact the end result was as good as the cafe version if not better!

Here’s Joss doing some mixing

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And the finished product

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What do you think? Good enough to eat?

24/365 A big bowl of porridge

New job = busy start to the day this week, what better to get the day started than grabbing a bowl of porridge at my desk?

Instead of buying overpriced ‘quick oats’ I followed the brilliant Jack Monroe’s advice and made her Super Express Portable Porridge

With a sliced banana and a little honey this budget brekky is a hit for busy parents.

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A first foray into slow cooking

Anything that saves me time and prevents dinner time meltdowns is a good thing in my book! This week’s meal planning is being designed around my new kitchen helper, a slooooow cooker. I picked up this beauty fairly cheaply after parents on a budget meals Facebook group raved about pulled pork, stews and slow cooked chicken thighs.
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I started today with a huge portion of bolognese sauce with two cans of cannellini beans added to bulk it out for three meals.

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I’m not great at knowing which cuts of meat are cheapest so I’ll be taking a trip to the butchers to gen up on this, but any advice is greatly appreciated!

So here’s how the week ahead is shaping up:

Monday: Bolognese and pasta with brocolli

Tuesday: Sausage casserole in the slow cooker, sprouts are sure to feature as Jossy seems to enjoy them!

Wednesday: Bolognese and jacket pots

Thursday: Work day, not brave enough to leave the slow cooker on all day so a quick n easy but loved beans on toast with sausages

Friday: Falafels in wraps with veggies

Saturday: Homemade pizza

Sunday: Chicken thighs in slow cooker