Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ribbon scraps and gravy tubs...

Here's a quick and easy way to use up those ribbon scraps, recycle empty gravy granule tubs and organise your desk/craft space all in one go.

Measure around your chosen pot/canister/tub and cut lengths of ribbon just slightly longer (to allow for an overlap). Attach the ribbons to the container using narrow double sided sticky tape for an almost instant  makeover! You can use fabric glue if you prefer but you need to allow a little extra time for the glue to dry.

And that is it! I told you it was easy!

Keep hold of the lids and use your pretty decorated tubs to store craft supplies - buttons, ribbons, beads - or they make a lovely addition to your desk for paperclips or rubber bands. Without the lids they make great pen pots!

I used a gorgeous selection of ribbons in autumnal colours from my Jane Means ribbon stash for this stripy  pencil pot.

Alternatively wrap the canister in a lovely piece of fabric and glue in place. Add coordinating ribbon to the top and bottom to cover the fabric edges.

Chocolate brown and burnt orange Jane Means ribbon coordinates beautifully with this lush Saffron Craig owl print fabric. The taller canister lends itself beautifully to showing off this collection of wooden knitting needles! (my mums . . . although I may just *forget* to give them back!)

I think they look great and they are really are so easy peasy to do I may end up with ribbon covered storage pots all over the house.
I wonder if the Other Half would like one for his spanners . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nano Speed Super Vert Crash Set Review

Little Man has been eyeing up the Nano Speed cars for a while so when the Nano Speed Super Vert Playset turned up at Mount Pleasant for him us to review . . .  well I think his face says it all!

The teeny Nano Speed cars work by a simple pull-back mechanism and boast an "insane power to weight ratio . . . capable of defying gravity and pulling off stunts never done before"  What this means basically is that they are *very* small and *very* fast. Frustratingly we found, more often than not, that they flipped over when released but when they DID work properly, they really went for it!

Setting the play set up was easy enough - all the track pieces are numbered and the instructions are simple diagrams that are easy to follow. The set requires 2 'D' size batteries (BIG chunky round ones) which we didn't have in the house but that didn't stop the Little Man enjoying himself immensely, customising his set by plastering it with the cool graffiti stickers provided.

Once the battery situation was sorted and the motorised launcher was working we were able to see the play set in action. The super charger/launcher is annoyingly noisy but the effect is quite stunning and the Little Man actually squealed with delight as the Nano Cars shot round the track at turbo speed ( apparently as fast as 1500mph scaled speed *oh really?* )

It's a shame the cars didn't actually stay on the track for more than a couple of circuits and we have yet to get two going simultaneously and therefore get the 'crash' effect but maybe I am just being picky!

Little Man soon discovered that disconnecting the track and using the speed launcher to fire the Nano cars across the room was MUCH more fun!

Little Man says - "It was fun. I liked putting the stickers on.
 I like the tiny little cars and they go very fast. It was cool.
 I didn't like them falling off all the time"

Overall the Nano Speed Super Vert Playset was great fun to play with - although maybe better suited to an older child. The cars can be bought separately (which is good as they really are small and will probably be lost/stood on fairly quickly . . . ) and are intended to be 'collected'. I feel that, at £34.99 (rrp) the playset is a little expensive but, let's be honest, if you can't find it cheaper you really aren't trying hard enough!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Luxury Handmade Chocolates giveaway!

 For most of us there are only two weeks of Summer Holidays left *listens for collective sigh of relief*

Lets be honest it's not been a brilliant summer - opportunities to let the kiddies run riot outside have been few and far between which means there has been lots of running riot *inside*. I don't know about you but some much needed 'mummy pampering' is needed, and what better way to do this but with some luxury handmade chocolates?

Chocolate by Genevie is a brand new website selling exquisitely packaged handmade chocolates delivered free (within the UK) to your door. A family run business, Chocolate by Genevie pride themselves in using only the finest ingredients to produce their gorgeous range of luxury chocolates. You won't find these chocolates anywhere else either - they are only available exclusively through their website.

Genevie sent me a small selection of her lovely chocs to try and I can confirm that they are, indeed, delicious. I particularly enjoyed the dark chocolate orange praline with it's little candied orange slice decoration.

Genevie has also, very generously offered to send one of my readers a lovely box of chocolates to try too!  This tasty selection of handmade chocolates retails at £36.99 and comes beautifully presented in a red silk covered, heart shaped box finished off with a luxury bow.

 This box would make a lovely gift but don't feel guilty about treating yourself. It's been a long six weeks. You deserve it ;-)

Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget to enter. You must leave a comment on the blog (that is mandatory) All the other options give you an extra entry each but are entirely optional.

The competition ends on Wednesday 29th August - winner will be announced on Twitter and Facebook and notified by email on Friday 31st August. 

Good Luck! xx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ps. Have you left a comment on this post? Your entry will not be valid without a comment left below!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's the Little Things #3 Sunshine on a Rainy Day

After yet another dull, grey rainy day the sun finally makes a brief appearance . . .

Five minutes later it was grey again.

 But, you know, sometimes five minutes is all you need. . .

Monday, August 13, 2012

A day out to the Zoo!

Last week me and the Little Man spent a few days at my parents house eating well, playing in the garden (yes, the sun appeared!!!!) going for walks along the canal and generally just taking a break from the routine. My dad has mentioned before how much he would like to take the Little Man to the zoo but, to be honest, I didn't feel he was really ready to appreciate it fully until this summer. So we took one day out of our break to head across the Severn Bridge and visit Bristol Zoo Gardens.

We arrived at about 10.45 to see the car parks were full and queue about half a mile long at the entrance! Luckily for us we were travelling with my mum and her wheelchair so we were able to get a special parking spot close to the entrance and, because we had pre-booked our tickets online we avoided the queue too! (plus you get an extra 10% discount so it's well worth remembering!)

The Gardens are beautifully laid out and we were blessed with lovely weather which made the whole experience much more pleasurable!  Yes, it was busy, but we expected it to be. There was more than enough space for everyone to enjoy their picnics and, with the exception of the nocturnal house which was dark (well, duh!) and humid and quite frankly I couldn't wait to get out, nowhere was over crowded and manoeuvring a wheel chair around the place was pretty easy too.

Food and drink available to buy on site (from cafe/restaurants/booths and vending machines dotted about the place) was over-priced, as you would expect, but take a picnic along and this is, overall a pretty cheap family day out. And it's educational too!!  Just be aware that you have to walk through the gift shop to get out and if you are watching the pennies then put blinkers on the kids as you walk through or I guarantee you will be going home with a collection of cuddly meerkats and plastic dinosaurs!

Here a few of my favourite pictures from the day. . .   Enjoy x

snoozin' is what us Lions do best!

Dinosaurs roam free at Bristol Zoo!

T-Rex (scarily huge)

the seals were mostly asleep...

but they still managed to captivate the Little Man

beautiful Silver back Gorilla had his 'I've just woken up' face on...
even the meerkats were trying to nap!

...although there is always one left outside, keeping watch

butterflies feeding - these were about the size of my hand!

LM with Alfred - one of Bristol Zoo's first, and most famous, Gorillas

gorgeous snuggly ring tailed Lemur. Also napping. Hmmm.....

Please visit the 'Bristol Zoo Gardens' photo album on the Tales from Mount Pleasant Facebook page for loads more gorgeous pictures of the zoo's inhabitants. Some of them are even awake!!! ;-) 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

#CreativeBudget - Fabric Painting Fun!

It's that Creative Budget time again (if you don't know what I'm talking about here is my first Creative Budget post with a little more about the idea behind it!)

You may have noticed that I missed a July post - this was mainly due to a lot of other commitments and the Little Man finishing nursery and suddenly being at home all the time! This month I thought long and hard about creating a project that could be enjoyed by kids of all ages. I wanted to make something that the Little Man could take an active role in creating AND that he would be able to play with long after the craft tools had been packed away...

There are so many different products to chose from on the Abakhan website but I finally made my selections and spent this month's budget on 1m of bleached calico fabric, a Dylon Colourfun fabric marker pen in black and half a dozen tubes of Leeho fabric paints in bright colours.

And this is what we did with them...

Rocket play cushion

First of all wash your calico - this ensures there are no residues let from the manufacturing process that may stop the fabric paint from taking properly. Once it was dry we cut the fabric into quarters and laid one out flat. Using the Dylon marker, I drew a basic picture of a rocket. This fabulously retro rocket was copied out of Little Man's favourite colouring book :-)  Make sure you leave enough room to cut out around the outline of the picture with a couple of centimetres to spare.

Set the outline by ironing over it with a hot iron.

Now lets get painting! You can use the Leeho fabric paints straight from the tube and create patterns/doodles/writing using the fine nozzle tip (takes a bit of practise and better for older kids to do) or you can squeeze a blob of paint out and spread it around with a paintbrush for more coverage. Little Man happily got stuck in and even managed to stay within the outline most of the time!  The paints are water based so wash out of the brush and off hands easily (they are permanent once dry so wear old clothes or an apron whilst painting!)

Once you have finished colouring your picture you have to leave it to dry flat overnight.

 Once the paint is completely dry pin another quarter over the top. You should be able to see your painted picture through the fabric enough to be able to trace an outline. Use a sharp pencil to lightly sketch the outline allowing approximately 2cm around the edge of the picture. Don't worry about following the picture outline exactly, a general outline will be easier to sew!

Then you need to stitch around the outline - by hand or machine - leaving a gap to turn and stuff in a suitable place in the seam. Then trim all the excess fabric away about 5mm from the stitches, snipping into curves and notching corners to reduce fabric bulk.

Leave a little extra seam allowance where you have left the opening to make it easier to stitch up the seam when you have finished stuffing.

Turn your cushion the right way round and press it lightly with a warm iron on the back, easing it into shape.

Now we can stuff it. Fill in the extremities first using small amounts of stuffing at a time. I use a chopstick to help push the stuffing into little spaces. The Little Man joined in on this bit too adding lots of stuffing in the middle.

Make sure you stuff your pillow fairly firmly so it keeps it's shape - for a pillow this size you will need about 200g of toy stuffing.

When you have finished stuffing, stitch up the opening.

The Rocket Pillow is now ready for lift off!!!!

I finished off our pillow with a label, written with the Dylon marker pen and blanket stitched in place on the back of the pillow - just a little reminder that we made this together.  I hope it's something he will keep and cherish for years to come!

OK - I cheated a little teeny bit with this month's Creative Budget - the fabric and paints came in at a few pence more than my £15 budget and I used toy stuffing I already had, BUT we still have half a metre of calico and plenty of fabric paint left for another project or two.  Maybe an alien pillow to go with our rocket? ;-)

Calico can be used for all sorts of projects - how about a personalised P.E bag to take back to school? Or make a simple tote bag and get the kids to decorate it for you. It's guaranteed to bring a smile to everyones face when you fill it with shopping at the supermarket checkout.

Monday, August 06, 2012

#MagpieMonday - Crafty things and Iconic Crockery

It's been a long time since I did a Magpie Monday post! Last week me and the LM had to go into town to do some banking.
As we have been doing a lot of clearing out lately we took a bag of things to donate and took some time to amble around our three charity shops in town...

Look what I found....

A bag full of dinky white wooden curtain rings. I have used larger wooden curtain rings in my craft projects before. These mini ones are very sweet and just begging to be repurposed! I have a great project to share with you at a later date.  Plus they only cost £1.50 for a bag of 40!!!

I love this vintage (1977) pattern book. Norweave orginated, as you might expect, in Norway and is a form of counted tapestry worked on canvas with wool and was very popular in the 70's and early 80's. This book is filled with adaptations of traditional designs (although, to be fair I think they are more 70's retro glamour than traditional Norwegian folk design!)in beautiful bright colours. I haven't done any tapestry work for a while and I really like a couple of the designs in this book  So I will be on the look out for some suitable tapestry canvas and wools for stitching! Might be a nice winter evening project.

love the vibrant colours of this cushion!

 I also found this lovely set of red wooden 4mm double pointed needles for 65p - they are longer length ones so are perfect for knitting cosy hats in the round.  Another winter project!

And finally, my most interesting item. I found this plate for £1.00 in our local Hospice shop. I loved the colours and pattern. I knew it was pretty old - I guessed mid-60's - and couldn't wait to get it home and do a little research!
Turns out it's an early pattern from Kathie Winkle for Broadhurst. "Tyne" was one of her first designs for Broadhurst c.1961. Unlike some of her more collectible designs I didn't manage to find that many examples around the internet so I guess it's not one of her most popular! Clearly influenced by Art Deco styling these items had the basic black pattern stamped on before the colours (in this case lovely pale blue and lemon) were added by hand.

One website warned
As Kathie Winkle is made more notable for being one of the first in-house designers to receive credit on the back stamp, it is important to beware of imitations

But further research discovered that Broadhurst did not introduce her name on the back until c.1964, after 'Tyne' was first released.  So I could have a genuine early piece from an iconic 60's designer or just a copy.

Either way I love it!

Me and My ShadowHave you found any great bargains or hidden gems in your local charity shops lately? Why not link up with the lovely Lizzie at Me and My Shadow and her Magpie Monday linky?

Saturday, August 04, 2012

'Not-in-the-Mood-for-Cute' Kitty

It has been said by some (quite a few actually) that I take far too many photos.

Many of them are of my cat Ron. She puts up with the camera being pointed in her general direction with good grace and even manages to pose for me when she has a mind to.

But sometimes she really is NOT in the mood...
Well, we are all entitled to an off day every now and again!

I still love you, Ron, cute or otherwise! x

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Simple Things

I have made no secret of how much I love the magazine Mollie Makes - I have mentioned it enough times here on the blog! - so I was really excited to read this week that the team have produced another gorgeous publication due for release in September, just in time for some cosy autumnal reading.

The Simple Things is born of the same ethos as Mollie Makes but looks to cover a much broader base. This is life as I want to live it. This is about a making a home that nurtures and inspires, sharing it with friends and family, growing your own vegetables (I can't wait to read more about Ned and his allotment!), creating beautiful objects to love and cherish. Taking pleasure in the simple things.

Or, as the introduction so beautifully puts it "it's about shopping for a coffee table only to find you are happy with a tea chest"

There will be recipes, craft projects, beautiful interiors to emulate, inspiring stories to uplift. And, like it's sister mag, refreshingly free of the pages and pages of ads and gossip that fill the glossies. 

I can't wait to curl up under a hand knitted blanket, with a mug of tea and a homemade muffin and read the full first issue!

 Click here for a sneaky peak and a special early subscription offer of 3 issues for £5. (I have already set up mine!)

You can also keep up to date with news and extras on their blog. And you can follow them on facebook , Twitter and Pinterest too!

The It-would-be-much-better-if-it-just-stopped-raining Life

Do you remember, back in May we had some gorgeous sunshiny weather and me and the Little Man got our little plot all prepared for some serious veggie growing?

I was actually quite excited by the prospect of raising our own little patch of veggie goodness. If you follow the blog facebook page you may have seen the 'Plot watch' photo album charting our progress but to be honest it's been more than a little disappointing so far.

In fact if we were relying on our garden to feed us like Tom and Barbara in 'The Good Life' we would all be getting very hungry right about now!

Or developing recipes with slugs as the main ingredient as they seem to be in abundance. . .  Eeuuwwww!! As I said we would be hungry!


The slugs decimated the lettuces over night a few weeks back. They've had a good go at the peas too although a few hardy pods have won through and we may even have a handful of peas to show for it at the end of the summer! The broad beans have started to pod too but not holding out for more than a handful of those either (although in their defence I was a little late planting those!) Two of the three tomato plants died. The remaining one is doing ok, it is flowering quite happily but no sign of any fruit as yet.

 Talking of fruit the strawberries have not been anywhere near as prolific as last year - the new plants I had this year (those that survived the awful weather) have not fruited that well and the fruit we have had, despite looking good, hasn't been that tasty. Maybe next year's crop will be better...  The raspberries have been tasty but again not nearly as prolific as last year. Too much rain. Not enough sun. *sigh*

The beetroot and carrots *seem* to be doing ok - the above ground leafy stuff is looking pretty good but it will be another 4 or 5 weeks before we can see whether the underground bit (ie the important bit) has done as well.  Fingers crossed!

It's a good job we aren't relying on these veggies for survival! 

Maybe next year we will just grow potatoes. You can't go wrong with potatoes. Apparently.

Are you growing your own veggies this year? How is your plot growing?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Playing with Ribbon. . .

I have thoroughly enjoyed sorting out my new ribbon stash from Jane Means.

Organisation is the key when you are a butterfly crafter like me - my stash of fabric, yarn, buttons, ribbons, beads, paper tools and haberdashery tend to spill over their allotted spaces and find their way into all sorts of unlikely places (which usually means that when I am actually looking for a particular item I can never find it without an extensive search and much muttering under breath!) I knew I had to take control of all these lovely ribbons straight away or things might get messy. . .

Fortunately I had the perfect little 'treasure chest' sitting empty waiting for something suitably precious to fill it. Wrapping the ribbon around card 'bobbins' (cut out from cereal boxes) and writing the product code and description next to each one looks so cute AND will help me share all these ribbons with you when I blog all the lovely projects I am planning!

Ribbon Bookmarks


I love to read!  I usually have AT LEAST 3 books on the go at any one time - currently I am reading the very funny 'An Utterly Impartial History of Britain' by John O'Farrell, a novel from the fantasy series by Raymond E Feist as well as flicking through the new Erica Knight book on crochet. Trouble is I can never find a bookmark when I need one, which means I usually end up using scraps of paper or *gasp* folding the corner of the page over!

Here's a really simple idea for using up small lengths of ribbon you may have left over from another project to save your pages and they make great little gifts for the literary people in your life!

Now obviously, a length of ribbon on it's own would make a perfectly good bookmark but it's very easy to pretty them up with some necklace ends and a few beads.

I have used these bar clamps to finish off lovely knitted necklaces my mother-in-law makes but they are the perfect width for these 15mm stripe ribbons.  Just attach a few beads to either end to add some weight and voila! Gorgeously simple bookmarks ready to adorn your latest read and helpfully remind you where you got up to without a folded page corner in sight.

This lovely piece of Ocean Jasper co-ordinates well with the sage green and cream stripe ribbon for a more masculine bookmark.

Why not create a ribbon bookmark to match a special book to give as a gift?   I have used the orange and brown stripe with some amber coloured beads here.

The beads at either end create a bit of weight that hold the bookmark in place. I love the green and purple stripe combo with beautiful swarovski crystals and acrylic star charms.

You don't have to use beads at both ends - a lovely silky tassel in co-ordinating colours would look gorgeous too!   Why stop at one? Create pretty bookmarks for all your favourite books :-)

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