Monday, 7 April 2014

Awkward family photo | Magpie Monday

I always keep an eye out for vintage wooden picture frames on my car boot and charity shop travels - the type that were all the rage in the 60s and 70s. They are so simple but tend to be well made with some nice dovetailing on the better ones.

Here are a couple I've found so far. Check out the Quality Street ladies! The plan was (and still is) to sell them mounted with my own artwork... if I can ever get my illustrations finished. I'm my own worst client. The other problem is that I love the frames so much I don't actually want to part with them.

Vintage 60s 70s picture frames


'a whale from Wales' by Hello Dodo, a lovely Brighton based duo - in a vintage frame

Buying frames second-hand mean they often come with a picture already inserted. This picture is pretty much guaranteed to be terrible. So, when I bought the above frame (50p in a charity shop) which appeared to have no picture in, I was surprised to open the back and find that the cardboard insert was folded over and inside was this happy family...

Tenterden family photo 70s

There's no indication to the date this was taken but judging by the boys' (are they twins?) matchy shirt and tie combo and Dad's check jacket I'm guessing late seventies. What do you think?

The only other clue is this stamp on the back...


I wonder how something like this ended up in a charity shop; it's a bit sad really. I wonder if anyone recognises them? (They are welcome to their photo back if they do!)

Linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Delayed gratification

Do you find it more satisfying when you have to wait to get what you want?

I was pondering this while thinking about kids clothes and how I find the majority second-hand. I'm sure the excitement of discovering something unique and in the right size (and cheap) is way better than buying from a rack of identical things on a shop display.

Two more charity shops have sprung up in Addiscombe making a great chazzing run. I've been on a decluttering spree at home so I'm trying to take more to the charity shop than back home again. I always need clothes for K and E and I picked up two pairs of jeans in great condition for E (50p each) and also some vintage toy cars (also 50p) that will be ideal to go with his birthday present next month...

Vintage purple Volkswagen 1600 toy car

I've been keeping an eye out for a toy garage for his second birthday. I really wanted one of the old Fisher Price ones. I had one myself as a child and the fact that my hoarder mum doesn't still have it makes me think I probably loved it to pieces. The little black and white dog that came with it was my favourite.

They go for a whopping £50+ on ebay, and I haven't been lucky enough to spot one at a boot sale. As I was running out of time I set my sights a little lower.


E always makes a beeline for a Le Toy Van garage at our local Surestart centre. Any toy that can withstand the regular poundings they get at a stay & play session passes quality control as far as I'm concerned, so the hunt began for one on a budget of £20.

After many days of searching and exasperating last-minute outbids on ebay, I finally got one. When I went to collect it the seller told me that a woman had turned up a couple of minutes before me and she had invited her in thinking she was me - only to discover she was a Jehovah's Witness. I've never felt so guilty for being late. The garage is lovely though, I hope E thinks so too.

Le Toy Van Grand Garage

In related news, my car has just failed its MOT. Shame I can't squeeze it into La Station Entrance to get it fixed. It appears the metal coil that fell off a few months back was actually quite important after all, oops.

Linking up to Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow where you can share your second-hand finds.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Origami pirate ship / name place

personalised origami pirate ship for kids party

I'd forgotten how much I like drawing in pen and ink. Last week I unearthed my old tin of pen nibs that I bought at a car boot sale about 25 years ago (I realise that makes me sound ancient) along with a job-lot of ex-government office inks in a surprisingly bright array of colours considering the kind of dull documents I imagine they would have been used on: bright pink, purple, grass green. These have served me well over the years for many a school and college project and there is just something about the scratchy sound and smell of the ink that I like a lot.

old ink pen nibs

E's birthday is coming up and as he's a big Swashbuckle fan I thought that a pirate theme would be fun, so I've made a pirate ship design that can be folded into an origami boat with a little cocktail stick flag to put in the top. You can write each person's name where the 'name' of the boat would be and fill with treats.
This is the prototype drawn onto bright paper which then fell into K's hands and ended up smothered in yellow paint...
personalised pink origami boat for kids party

The file, if you'd like to print it, is set at A4 size and is below along with another file to create the skull and crossbones flags.

Follow these instructions to fold the boat - the trick is to start by folding the sheet so the printed area is inside. Then when the bit comes where you pull the points to reveal the boat (fig.8), the print will magically appear on the outside.

Fill the boats with whatever you like; the obvious choice would be gold chocolate coins, a healthier and cheaper option is home made popcorn (easy to air-pop in the microwave, instructions are here). I used fish crackers and mini marshmallows for my road test. I might end up filling them with crayons for the kids to chew on decorate the boats themselves.

And don't forget the rum for the mums.

Little hands holding origami boat


DIY printable for origami pirate ship
DIY printable for pirate flag

Click to see the full size A4 documents

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

It doesn't take a Genius

You may have been lucky enough to witness some tweeted photos of my Macbook laptop battery recently (I know! My twitter feed is so much fun!). If not then here they are....

 Duh, duh, DERRR!

The fact that my battery took on a life of its own and forced its way out of my mac is the reason for my general lack of blogging (that and us taking turns at being ill, Plusnet leaving us wifi-less for weeks and an E who doesn't want to nap or go to bed in general).

I can only use the laptop with no battery in, insides on view, plugged directly into the mains. If the mains cable gets accidentally knocked out - which is easily done as it's connected by just a magnet - then it instantly goes dead. Anything you were working on is lost.

After looking at some mac forums I saw that bulging battery was a fairly common problem, with Apple having to recall a batch from 2006. Customers in the US seemed to get a good result when presenting a dodgy battery at the Apple Store Genius bar with most getting a free replacement regardless of warranty. However, here in the UK it's a different story. On revealing the battery to my 'Genius', instead of the "Oh my God! Let me get you another one right away!" that I was expecting, I was told that the bulging is a safety feature to show that the battery is at the end of its usable life.

Wouldn't a simple pop-up message suffice? Surely a battery that no longer holds a charge is an adequate indicator that you need a new one?

What if this applied to other things that were reaching the end of their life? Cars that bonnets suddenly pop open to signal a problem. Bras that fling free when the elastic is on its way out? Nappies that explode when it's time for a change (ok, I have had that one happen).

I pointed out the potential danger of the battery cells opening but was told that unless the exposed pods were pierced then there was no problem. My Genius clearly doesn't realise how wiley children can be and that they would be happily mauling the pods if my back was turned for 10 seconds.

So I slunk out clutching my sad old death-trap of a battery with a warning not to buy a cheaper third-party replacement. But a third-party battery was £70 cheaper. For a £70 saving I'll take the risk of hot acid leaking into my lap. Once the new death-trap of a battery arrives blogging will resume!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

We wish you a scary Christmas...

On our trip to the library last week we chose some books from their special Christmassy display. I picked out this one for K because she likes other I-spy type books; "Where's Strawberry Moshi?" is a current favourite. And I secretly enjoy the puzzles too.


It started off well with this page of lovely old baubles (apart from one with a weird gnashing face... can you spot that one?!)

Click on the photos to see them bigger/scarier

But then I turned to this page... *shudders*


And I'm sorry to say it gets worse...


Happy Christmas, don't have nightmares!

Monday, 16 December 2013

All the small things | Magpie Monday

I wanted to get this properly finished before the grand unveiling but that's never going to happen so here is my shelving revamp so far... just don't look too closely because the background paper isn't stuck in yet. Some pieces are defying the laws of physics by staying in place anyway, but at some point I need to use double-sided tape on them.

This was before: (it was rescued after my neighbours left it out on bin day)

old shelving

And this is it after a couple of coats of eggshell paint and some vintage giftwrap designs printed out and stuck into the gaps...

shelving makeover with vintage giftwrap

It's housing all kinds of bits and bobs including my beloved Pupcake from Strawberry Shortcake. I did a swap with my cousin for Pupcake; she got a packet of tiny pencils that had been attached by a string to the end of a regular sized pencil (remember those?!) He still has his vanillary smell after all these years - 80s chemicals must have been very potent!


There's also this weeble that my mum brought round which looks a lot more creepy than I remember...


She found my old glo-worm too, without its sleeping bag but it still glows in the dark (80s chemicals again) but is too big for the shelves.

80s glo worm toy

The only problem now - apart from the wonky paper - is I have nowhere to put it up. It's living on top of the kids wardrobe where they can't actually reach the toys. I need an artwork reshuffle or more walls or kids with longer arms.

Linking up to Lizzie's Magpie Monday

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Minicrafting

Don't let Pinterest fool you... if you do arts and crafts with a 4-year-old (or at least my 4-year-old) the results will look NOTHING like the photos. K is still very strong willed - I can't see that ever changing - and doesn't like to be shown what to do, so I let her lead the way which gives an end result that is unpredictable and probably nothing like I'd imagined it would look. And I'm fine with that, I've accepted that that's just how she is, but sometimes I want to do something that does turn out like I expect. Something with... no kids involved!

This is pretty difficult given that E now naps when K is home from school. So yesterday I came up with a plan to create something on a tiny scale in a short space of time. A mini project that could be completed in a day, squished between looking after the kids.

acorn cup and glass bead

I've seen loads of cute acorns on Etsy made of clay, felt, beads and more, and as we already had acorn cups collected this Autumn and a jar of beads it was just a case of finding a bead to fit and locating some paint, glue, thread and a brush.

Stage 1. Attach cotton to stem and tie at the top to make a loop.

Stage 2. Paint stem and outside of cup - I used K's ready-mixed silver paint. This required such a small amount that I squeezed it straight onto a brush so I only had to rinse out the brush, and not a pot, afterwards. Hang up by loop to dry.

acorn cup painted silver

Stage 3. When paint is dry, glue your bead in place and leave it flat to set. And that's it!

glass bead acorn decoration

I've hung it on the Christmas tree, I'm not sure how robust acorn cups are (especially with little hands about) but it was fun to make, even if it is tiny. Now to think of another mini project.


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