Friday, January 31, 2014

Crafty Obsessions - Button Crafts round up

I cannot believe it is the end of January already!

All month I have been busy drooling over buttons, mostly on Pinterest it has to be said, and coming up with ideas and projects to make use of the huge collection of buttons I already have.  Did you see my cute Button Hoop Art project?  I have some more hoops and I am planning a whole collection of these to fill up a wall space in my home :-)

I am still working on another button craft project which, due to a massive underestimation of the sheer number of buttons I would need, is not *actually* finished yet... It will be very soon but I think I may be adding it to my February WIPSLinky post as a 'very nearly finished' work in progress (tune in next week for that one!)

So, back to Pinterest - if you have visited my Crafty Obsessions - Buttons board you will see lots of lovely buttony inspiration and a fair few tutorial and diys too.  I thought it would be nice to share my favourites here with you as my Crafty Obsessions round up...

I love these book marks by Creative Pixie - perfect for using up scraps of fabric and buttons. This great tutorial, including a free pdf pattern download can be found here


A button clock! Genius!! Well it comes from the grand master (or mistress?) of crafty home making, Martha Stewart (just search 'button crafts')  I love this idea so much but may make mine using an embroidery hoop and buttons stitched on.... I'll be sure to share it with you when I get around to it!

image :
Button art in many forms appears on my Pinterest board. I love the button tree idea and this tutorial from Simply Designing shows how you can get the kids involved from sorting to sticking (don't forget young children MUST be supervised when handling buttons AND glue!).

image :
Top marks here for the simplest tutorial EVER! So easy, so effective and the method could be carried over and used for hair clips, pin brooches, in fact anything that stays still long enough may find itself having buttons attached to it...   find out more here

 Here's another super simple but very effective idea - A Button Wreath from craftapalooza! I really love how she has used a belt buckle and a lovely piece of velvet ribbon as a hanger too...

And finally...

Not a tutorial as such but a whole post on incorporating buttons into gift wrapping. There are some absolutely gorgeous ideas here . I don't know about you but if I received a gift wrapped up like that I'd almost be reluctant to open it! *almost*

So there you have it - my pick of the button projects I have found and pinned this month. There are loads more on my board and I am sure I will continue to add to it (an obsession is for life not just for one month after all...)

Next week I shall be moving on to my next Crafty Obsession. I wonder if you can guess what it might be?

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Tutorials - a fab new weekly Pin Party!

Hello everyone I hope you've had a very Happy Tuesday!

Over the past few weeks I have been working away with three other lovely crafty bloggers - Kate at Crafts on Sea, Gude at Hodge Podge Craft and Anna at In the Playroom to put together a brand new weekly linky.   Inspired by our love of Pinterest and the wealth of crafty tips and tutorials that can be found therein we would like to present...

Tuesday Tutorials officially launches next Tuesday (Feb 4th) and we want you to join in!

Just link up your tutorials, recipes and how to's and we will pin them all to our special Pinterest board creating one amazing #Pintorials showcase!

The Linky will be hosted across all four blogs so it really doesn't matter which blog you add your link to - everyone will see it!   Each week we will each pick a selection of our favourite posts from the week before to feature - we all have our own crafty interests so all posts will have a good chance of getting a bit of extra exposure, which can't be a bad thing!

We are a pretty easy going bunch of gals but there a few rules and guidelines, just to keep things running smoothly...


  • Link up ONE post a week - it can be any kind of creative tutorial, how-to or recipe at any level from pre-schoolers to pro. It doesn't have to be a new post from the last week so use #Pintorials to revisit some of your best tutorial posts!
  • Please follow the #Pinstruction board (link will be up next week). 
  • Please also follow the hosts on Pinterest - Anna, Gude, Kate and me - this is not essential but would be appreciated!
  • Try and visit at least three other blogs on the linky and leave a comment or pin some of their fab tutorials to your own boards. You could use the #pintorials hashtag to let them know you found them via the linky. 
  • If you want to, add the badge to your post or your side bar (I am working on a 'share this button code' but in the meantime you can just copy the one above )

We are all really excited about this and look forward to reading all your fab posts next Tuesday.

See you at the Pin Party!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Big Energy Saving Week 27th-31st January

Did you know it is Big Energy Saving Week this week?

There are lots of ways you can save energy but one of the easiest is to just switch from regular lightbulbs to energy saving LED bulbs.

LED bulbs may seem expensive but this infographic below by Lightbulbs Direct is a real eye opener when it comes to how much cheap incandescent lightbulbs actually cost us and the environment!

We have already swapped over most of the light bulbs to energy saving ones in our house but this week I will be making the effort to replace the last couple of incandescent bulbs and do our bit for the environment not to mention ease the pressure on my purse!

Won't Cost the Earth

Won't Cost the Earth - An infographic by LightBulbs-Direct to promote the Benefits of LED Bulbs for ‘Big Energy Saving Week’. To view the full image click here.

To Embed 'Won't Cost the Earth' on Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

Please not this is NOT a sponsored post and I have recieved no payment from LightBulbs Direct for posting this infographic and accompanying link .

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meal Planning 2014 - Lunchbox Stars!

Well last week didn't go quite as well as week before. If there is one thing I am learning it's that it's important to be flexible with the meal planning! Roo was invited to his friend's house for tea on Tuesday so rather than cook the meal I had planned for the two of us I opted for a tea and toast supper and cooked Tuesday's meal on Friday. And we ended up having Wednesday's soup two night running as Roo loved it so much...
Despite this I still went £2.04 over budget - although to be fair at least two meals this week will be made from Sunday's roast dinner left overs so potential to make up for over spend there...

Roo's school packed lunch is still proving tricky.  Every day this week his lunch bag has come home with about 75% of his lunch in a squished up mess at the bottom of it, so not only is he not eating it at school, I can't even make him eat it when he gets home hungry...
It doesn't seem to make much difference whether I put his favourite sandwiches (minus crusts) and snacks in or not - he rarely eats more than half of it.
We talked about it and I asked him what he would really like in his lunch bag and he said 'pasta and tuna or some soup'  This week we are going to try just a bowl of pasta salad and some of these fab little cheesy star snack biscuits (recipe below).  Less stuff to chose from will hopefully mean he eats more of what he is given and I won't have to keep throwing food away!

This week's meal plan...


Cauliflower and Other veg cheese, made with Sunday dinner leftovers!


Chicken, Sweetcorn and Noodle Soup - again made with Sunday's left over roast chicken


Roo going to his Nonny's house after school so probably cheesy beans on toast for me! (or left over left overs...)


Lentil and Carrot soup with homemade rustic bread


Aduki Bean pie


Homemade pizza


Toad in the Hole with mash and veg

Easy Cheesy Lunchbox Stars recipe


4oz/125g plain flour
2oz/60g butter
2ox/60g finely grated cheese (a mature cheddar gives a better flavour)
1tsp paprika
splash of cold milk
1 egg yolk


Sift the flour and paprika into a large bowl.  Rub in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, mix in the cheese then make a well in the centre. Add the egg yolk and a splash of milk (go easy, you can always add a little more if need be) and mix together to form a soft dough.
Roll out the the dough on a floured surface - about 3-5mm thick is enough as the biscuits puff up a bit when cooked.  Cut out your biscuits and place on a greased/lined baking tray and cook at top of a moderate oven (180c/gas 4) for about 10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container.

They should stay fresh for five or six days.

They may not actually stay uneaten for that long though...

The paprika is entirely optional but adds a subtle kick. Leave it out if you don't think your kids will like it. Try dried herbs instead if you want or add some poppy seeds to the mix with the cheese.
Try using different shaped cookie cutters too - I have dinosaur ones that went down particularly well or you could try mini gingerbread men cutters, hearts, flowers, or just plain rounds.

These snacks are incredibly easy and cheap to make - not to mention very moreish - so enjoy experimenting with different seasonings and shapes and make your kids lunchboxes more fun!

ps - I have submitted this post to #mealplanningmonday over on At Home with Mrs M - there's loads of other meal planning ideas linked up too so do go and take a look!

Meal Planning Monday

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Simple Button Hoop Art Tutorial

I love collecting buttons - I have even been known to buy stuff from charity shops simply for the buttons!

Sometimes it seems a bit of a shame to hide them away in a tin where their multicoloured buttony gloriousness cannot be appreciated...

So here's a simple idea to show off your button collection - pick out a few of your favourites, a scrap of fabric and an embroidery hoop and whip up a little piece of art in next to no time.


You will need

Some buttons
Embroidery Hoop
piece of fabric to fit embroidery hoop
piece of felt to back (optional)
fabric glue

First cut a circle of felt, if you are using, the same size as the inner diameter of your hoop. You can glue this to the back of your work to neaten it when you are done and believe me it's MUCH easier to cut it out now!

Place your fabric into your embroidery hoop - make sure it is stretched nice and tight.

Arrange your buttons any way you like until you are pleased with the layout them simply stitch into place. (you could glue them on for a completely no-sew make but I like to see the stitching)

When you have sewn all the buttons on,  trim the fabric all the way round leaving about 4cm or so to wrap around the hoop.

Apply a thin layer of glue to the inside of the inner ring of the hoop and stick the fabric down.

Then add the backing felt with more fabric glue and leave to dry

Ta da!

What could be easier than that? I used a tiny 10cm hoop but you could use any size you like.

Group buttons by size, shape, colour or material or go completely random. Contrast, clash or match - it's entirely up to you!!

I am loving obsessing over buttons this month - my Pinterest board is filling up with gorgeous button images and crafty ideas and I have a couple more projects to share with you before the end of the month too!

Happy Crafting x

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Meal Planning 2014 - week 2

Last week I began meal planning in earnest on a pretty limited budget of £5 a day for the three of us. Working around the limitations of a very picky partner and a 5 year old whose likes and dislikes change with the wind; the fact that we have none of the 'Big 5' supermarkets within walking distance and my pledge to shop locally and utilise local butchers, bakers and grocers wherever possible.

My first week went ok - many of you warned me that no matter how well I planned it was pretty much a given that all would NOT go to plan and this proved to be the case. (Want to see what I planned? It's here )
Roo decided that he didn't like the chowder on Monday because it was too creamy (?!) and also turned his nose up at the home made veggie burgers (which he has had and enjoyed before...) Luckily vegetable soup always goes down well and I made enough for two meals (Wednesday & Friday) with crusty bread and cheese.

Saturday night takeaway for the Other Half's birthday was paid for by his parents (thank you!) and the cake went down a treat. Plus there is still half of it left for pudding today - and, as it was so rich, probably tomorrow too!
Sticking to the list proved easier than expected - although I did buy a couple of extras that had been reduced for the freezer - these have been incorprated into this weeks plan so still saving me money over all.
The best bit of all? I actually had a couple of pounds left over at the end of the week. This has been stashed away - as will any left over food budget each week - so we can treat ourselves occasionally.

I have decided not to bother listing the Other Half's meals for the week - to be honest they are pretty much the same each week. If he's happy with that (and he is) then so am I...

What me and Roo are eating this week...


Fish fingers or vegetable fingers, potato wedges, mushy peas


Chicken, rice and peas


Leek and Potato soup with cheesy rolls


Shepherds pie and veg


Tagliatelle with homemade veggie pasta sauce


Creamy cheese and tomato pasta bake with garlic bread (we ALL eat this meal!)


Roast chicken with roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas, carrots and stuffing
(we all eat this meal too, although some of us eat more components than others ;-) )

A rough tot up of ingredients needed for these meals and the OH's is approximately £25 which leaves me £10 for bread, milk and other sundries for the week.

I will spend a fair chunk of my budget on Sunday's roast chicken as I like to get either free range or at least higher welfare (no 3 for a tenner stuff here) BUT left overs will be made into at least one more meal next week and I shall probably sneak a chicken, stuffing and coleslaw sarnie as next Monday's lunch too...

Are you meal planning your way through 2014? How's it going so far?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Little Things :: An early birthday pressie...

It's my birthday in a couple of weeks. I wasn't going to shout about it coz it's a *BIG ONE* and, to be honest, I'd rather not think about where all those years have gone!!

Anyway I received a rather lovely early present in the post yesterday - issue 10 of gorgeous thrifty vintage inspired lifestyle magazine Pretty Nostalgic. Not just Issue 10 mind you but a whole year's subscription gifted to me by my fab mother-in-law!

Pretty Nostalgic even included a hand written birthday card to me so I would know who it was from.

How lovely is that?

Pretty Nostalgic is a magazine I have wanted to read after seeing it Wonder Wool Wales back in April. Their strap line - Creative and sustainable living inspired by the past - immediately grabbed my attention as did the beautiful imagery and the square shape of the magazine (it reduces waste at the printers - read more about it here )

With articles as diverse as 'The Rise and Fall of Music Hall' and the origins of popular English idioms to tips on collecting kitchenalia, a tour of Vintage Southsea and the best of British made lingerie, there is plenty in Pretty Nostalgic to keep me interested. Plus a few makes and bakes thrown in for good measure.

I can't wait to get stuck into this (even if it is *technically* the Christmas issue) and the even better news is issue 11 is being sent out to subscribers this week too so I should receive it in the post this weekend.

If anyone wants me I'll be curled up with a cosy blanket, a cup of tea, some left over Christmas biscuits and two copies of my new favourite read...

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Crafty Obsessions :: January - Buttons

Here's something I have been meaning to introduce to the blog for a while...  Crafty Obsessions!

Each month I plan to focus on one particular material or craft and share lots of ideas, beautiful pictures and tutorials with you, lovely readers. All 'Obsession' posts throughout the month will be tagged and there will be a library page here on the blog so you can refer back to posts at a later date if you want.

So without further ado lets start with January's obsession...


I believe I have written about my love of buttons on this blog before - in fact I even took part in a Button Swap which was great fun and something I would love to do again ( I may even organise one... what do you think?). I use a lot of old, reclaimed buttons in my Forest Flower products and have quite a large collection (including lots of gorgeous vintage buttons I inherited from my Other Half's nan) and it seems such a shame to leave them all sitting in a tin. So I been searching around for ideas for lovely things to make and do using buttons.

I have three or four projects to share with you over the month including a button lampshade, easy accessories and button pictures. I have also set up a Crafty Obsessions - Buttons Pinterest board - just shout if you'd like to join in pinning and I will add you to the board!

But for now here is a little button porn for you...

adorable pastel buttons - I have a special project in mind for these!

Lovely muted tones

Gorgeous vintage pressed glass buttons from nan's button box. Most of them are clear but I found a couple of pink and pale green ones too!

A closer look at that pastel prettiness...

My absolute favourite button from nan's button box - I can just imagine this beautiful pale blue embossed button gracing a coat or jacket saved for weddings and special occasions...

The first button project will be posted next week - I do hope you'll pop back and join in my January Crafty Obsession!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Remembering the Good Things

Last year I made the decision NOT to make any specific New Year's Resolutions but instead gave myself four 'values' to do my best to live by - simplicity, heart, organisation and positivity. You can read more about it here.

I have to say - with the exception of organisation which, I fear, will be an eternal bugbear of mine! - I think I managed to apply these values to my day to day living fairly successfully, resulting in a 2013 that was, perhaps, a whole lot happier than it could have been! These values will continue to be my cornerstones for 2014 and beyond...  (with organisation needing a bit of extra work. I  WILL get organised!!)

I have already pledged to meal plan my way through 2014, although this is as much due to necessity as anything, which should be a good spur to keep on track!

I have also decided to set up a 'GOOD THINGS JAR'.

This is an idea I saw posted around the internet last year but never got around to doing. This year I have a jar all sorted along with a little stack of paper squares.
The idea is that whenever something lovely happens - whether a fun day out, a gesture from a friend (or a stranger), an achievement or just a moment worth remembering - we write it down on a piece of paper and pop it into the jar. Then, at the end of the year we can look back at all the good things that have filled our year.

I always find it's the bad stuff we remember the most, that makes the biggest impression on our recollection of the year just gone. I like the idea of a jar full of Good Things as an antidote to that. Even if we do have to deal with another year full of bad stuff it will give us something positive to reminisce about in 365 days time!

Will you be using a 'Good Things Jar' or some other way to record the nice things that happen throughout 2014?
Perhaps you filled a 'Good Things Jar' in 2013. How does it feel to look back on all the awesome things that filled your year?

Either way I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Frugal Food - Meal planning

As you have probably all worked out money has been very tight here for a while now and things are not looking much better this year. The cost of living just keeps going up and our income is resolutely stuck at the same level it has been for years (although my Forest Flower Designs business is slowly growing and I have some exciting plans to grow it further in 2014!)
I have been quite sporadic with meal planning over the years but this year I am pledging to take a much more committed approach to meal planning and shopping.

Proper meal planning can be beneficial in so many ways when you have a very small food budget.

  • making a list and STICKING TO IT saves money
  • stops last minute 'what shall we have for tea' panic
  • Roo is getting older and has a far bigger appetite these days so healthy meals that fill his tummy are essential!
  • reduces waste to an absolute minimum

I have to mention here that the Other Half is the ultimate fussy eater and has a very limited range of foods he likes that consists mainly of breakfast cereal, bread, cheese, beans, tomato soup, pizza, pasta, minced beef, potatoes and sausages. Over the years I have given up trying to change his eating habits - if he doesn't want to eat healthily then there is very little I can do about it. I do try and slip the odd bit of fruit and veg in where I can. He does like apple pie or crumble and I can add carrots, onions and peppers to a basic tomato pasta sauce - pureed, obviously. ( Honestly it's like feeding a baby! )

To be fair it could be worse, he could be one of those people who insists on meat and two veg and a proper pudding every day or a wannabe gourmet which would definitely be a challenge on the £5 a day for the three of us that I have to spend*

Luckily, for now at least, Roo follows me when it comes to food and is happy eating most things (although he IS getting fussier as he gets older and I do have to scold daddy for belittling broccoli when I am trying to get Roo to finish his dinner!

After checking through my cupboards and freezer to see what we actually have I made this simple meal plan for next week...


OH - Left over Turkey pie and mash from Sunday 
Us  -  Haddock and Corn Chowder


OH - Cheesy Beans on Toast
Us  -  Homemade mini veggie burgers with salad/coleslaw


OH - Cream of Tomato soup and fresh bread rolls and cheese
Us -  Homemade vegetable soup with fresh bread rolls and cheese


OH - Sausage, chips and beans
Us  -  Meatballs in tomato & veg sauce with pasta


OH - Pizza
Us  -  Scramble eggs with tomatoes and spring onions on toast with beans if we're hungry!


Is OH's birthday so we will be getting a takeaway - this is not in the budget and will probably cost us around£15 but it's not your birthday everyday...
I will be making a chocolate birthday cake and that IS included in my budget


Shepherds pie with baked beans for OH and carrots and peas for us

Lunches are mainly cheese and pickle sarnies for OH; tuna/cheese/peanut butter sarnies, yoghurt and a homemade muffin or some dried fruit for Roo's school lunchbox (except on Fridays when he has school dinners coz it's always fish and chips and I KNOW he'll eat it!) and left overs from the day before for me (exciting huh?) 
Breakfasts are simple - cereal or porridge and toast with orange juice (one of those 5 a day!)

I have made a shopping list and am planning on shopping locally every couple of days (again to eliminate waste).  Sticking to the list is the most important part of this exercise and the part I shall probably find the most challenging but I will let you know how I get on next week!

Do you plan your meals every week? How easy do you find sticking to the plan?
If you don't meal plan already, would you like to? Why not join me giving it a go in 2014 and see if it changes your attitude to food and shopping? You might be surprised by how much money you save or how much better you are eating!

*and yes that does include other essentials like toilet roll, washing liquid etc. These have to be factored in when planning weekly shopping list.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

#Craftblogclub Secret Santa

Back at the very beginning of December the lovely Emma over at Life is Peachy organised a Secret Santa for all the #craftblogclub Twitter chatters who wanted to take part (well done Em, you did a fab job matching us all up and making sure everyone got the right addresses to post to!)

My Secret Santa gift was to go to Kate at Crafts on Sea and I spent many hours pondering what to make for someone who seemed to a pretty accomplished craftswoman herself! In the end I decided to make a covered notebook, using the same method I used for this tutorial a couple of months back.

I used lovely wool mix felt in grey marl and some gorgeous blue linen fabric that used to be a shirt (I do LOVE reusing old clothes to make new things!) for the lining and an embroidered applique patch on the front.  I know Kate has been going through some exciting changes this year with a new baby and a new shop so I thought a little notebook to jot down all those hopes, dreams and ideas would be just perfect!

Unusually for me I completely failed to take any pictures whatsoever of the notebook before or after I had wrapped it up to send! (I was in a bit of a pickle most of the way through December though so maybe it's not too surprising...) Luckily Kate has blogged about it with some lovely photos - please, do hop over and take a look

I know you are all dying to now what I received from Secret Santa....

Check out this gorgeous little bundle of loveliness from Laura at Made Peachy!

Not just one pressie but four! A lovely handmade felt stocking with huge jingle bells in my favourite festive colours, a bar of handmade soap (that smells yummy) and a candy cane to nibble on.  Laura had obviously done her research and knew how much I loved all things kitty and made me a covered notebook too! I adore the kitschy little kitty on the front. The back of the cover shows the back view of the kitty - sooooo cute :-)

There was a lovely little notecard enclosed too (Laura, if you read this - where did you get that notecard from? It is just beautiful!) sealed with wax which cracked delightfully when I opened it. I am definitely getting me some sealing wax and a stamp in 2014 - it is so much more satisfying than just ripping open a normal gummed envelope!

Thank you so much Laura - I am blown away by your thoughtful gift!

And thank you Emma for having the idea and organising us all - you are awesome!!

I hope you all had a fab Christmas and Santa brought you all lovely gifts too!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year x

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