Baby shower central

Gluten-free lemon cupcakes

My nearest and dearest seem to be popping out babies left right and centre at the moment. I swear it’s catching. After the very girly baby shower a few weeks back I had two more to go to last weekend, which meant two lots of gluten-free cupcakes (I love Doves Farm’s recipe with lemon icing) and two more taggie blankets. I’ve just finished another new baby gift – a playmat – but I’ll save that for another post in case the new mum spots it on here before I have time to give it to her (because of course she’ll have time to sit and read my blog…)

Taggie blankets on the line

I think that’s a total of 6 baby showers now – including my own last year – and I’ve seen some lovely handmade gifts at each one. A couple of friends are great at making nappy cakes, another made a beautiful patchwork quilt, and another a gorgeous crochet blanket. I’ve made so many taggies now that I think it’s high time I found a new ‘speciality’. I’ve started a board of crafty baby shower ideas on Pinterest, but if anyone else has any bright ideas please give me a shout!


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Filed under Babies and kids, Baking, Gift ideas, Party

Festival finds: WOMAD 2013

Inside the Tiny Tea Tent

The three of us are just back from WOMAD – our third time at the world music festival in Charlton Park, but our first with a small person in tow. Apart from getting a bit soggy on Saturday night (all part of the fun, I’m told) we had a whale of a time – Little Boy seemed to enjoy his first taste of camping, and we can’t wait to take him back to the festival when he’s bigger.

I spotted loads of pretty things over the course of the weekend – my favourite being the multi-coloured swathes of fabric that made up the roof of the Tiny Tea Tent. I’d love to do this for a garden party, complete with twinkling lanterns and huge squashy cushions to chill out on. And chai. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover chai. I’m hooked.

Woven baskets

These woven baskets would do wonders for the huge mound of dirty laundry we came home with, and I wouldn’t mind one of these pretty pouffes (ottomans, footstools, whatever you want to call them) in my front room.

Fabric ottomans

OK, so it’s a bit haphazard, but there’s something I quite like about this bonkers bunting and it’d be really easy to make.

Bonkers bunting

And yes, I surreptitiously snapped the back of this girl’s top like some kind of festival stalker, but it was worth it – I reckon I could tart up a fair few vest tops like this. Cute.

Embellished vest top

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Filed under Crafts, Homes & Interiors, Travel

Blog lovin’

Affordable Design Blogger Awards 2013

Turns out not one, but two of my favourite blogs are up for the Affordable Design Blogger Awards from, and I reckon you should check them out.

First up is Growing Spaces, where my very clever friend Heather blogs about family-friendly (and incredibly pretty) interiors. I’m a bit in love with her Penguin books-themed nursery right now…

And then there’s Make And Do With Perri, whose crafty musings I first found in the Guardian, and who clearly has great taste in free WordPress themes (cue much confusion every time I’m on her blog).

Check out the other nominations (if you must) here, and then vote for Heather and Perri here. Voting ends Friday, when the winners in each category will bag some cash.

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A very girly baby shower

The pinkest taggie in the land

The pinkest taggie in the land

Some friends and I organised a surprise baby shower over the weekend, which gave me the perfect excuse to run up a ridiculously girly taggie blanket for the mum-to-be (I’ve only ever made unisex taggies before this). It also meant I was tasked with making the invites (OK, I may have volunteered my services before anyone else had a chance, but that’s beside the point…)

Baby shower invites

I got a set of notecards and tarted them up with a few mismatched buttons and some superglue. How they fared in the post I’ve no idea, but they looked pretty before they went!

More baby shower invites

My baking skills are on a par with my ability to read a map, so I got my sister to make some gluten-free cupcakes and we asked the rest of the ladies to bring something sweet to share (the cupcakes-in-a-cone got my vote!). Needless to say, we’re still working our way through the leftovers. Which reminds me – is it lunchtime yet?

Cupcake cones

Gluten-free cupcakes

And the rest...


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Filed under Babies and kids, Entertaining, Invitations, Party, Sewing projects

Glossing over the problem…

Back wall: Dulux Muddy Puddle, Side wall: Dulux Egyptian Cotton

Facing wall: Dulux Muddy Puddle, Side walls: Dulux Egyptian Cotton

Well, it’s painted at last. After patchworking the walls of my front room with paint samples, and waving goodbye to my good friend Eau de Nil, I took the plunge with Muddy Puddle and Egyptian Cotton. Thank you, Dulux.

I won’t lie. I’m not completely sold on Muddy Puddle, the darker of the two, which we’ve used in the alcoves (the OH and I have decided it should be renamed Crappy Nappy, which might be a tad harsh, but sounds just about as appealing).

Luckily, though, the lion’s share of the room is painted in Egyptian Cotton – a sort of cool stone hue that goes with just about anything (handy when you’ve got a rug with more colours in it than a box of Crayola. Incidentally, we’ve agreed that as soon as Little Boy’s walking we’re going to invest in something a little less pass-me-the-sherry-dear. So if The Granny Rug floats your boat, you know where to find me…)

The only bit I need to do now is the glossing, which leads me to the point of this post. Does anyone have any suggestions for alternatives to gloss paint? I had a bad experience with the Dulux quick-drying stuff in our first house (big ugly brush strokes everywhere) so I’ve used their Professional Liquid Gloss ever since. The thing is, after a couple of months my lovely woodwork is less Brilliant White, more Mediocre Yellow.

I did a bit of reading up on it and I now know it’s down to the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds, AKA ozone nasties) being reduced or removed from oil-based paints. Makes sense to me, but is there a decent alternative that won’t yellow over time? Or just something that stinks a little bit less? Answers on a postcard please…


Filed under Home, Homes & Interiors

Make it yourself… fabric doorstop

Easy doorstop

This doorstop is so easy to make you don’t really need to bother measuring up, and there’s certainly no need for a pattern (I know, a what?)

If you’re buying fabric, you’re best to use something with a pattern so it’s less likely to show the dirt. And if you choose heavyweight or upholstery-weight cotton the doorstop will last longer. That said, it’ll work just as well with lighter cotton, mismatched fabric scraps from the bottom of your sewing bag, an old cushion cover or even a pretty top that’s seen better days. To fill it, use dry beans, pulses, or rice – or whatever you’ve got in the back of the kitchen cupboard.

You’ll need:
One rectangle of fabric, about 30x40cm
One 30cm length of ribbon, apron tie or cord
A bag of rice or dried beans
A sewing machine, or a needle and thread

Step 1: Lay your fabric right-side facing down on the table, with the longest edges running horizontally to you. Take the top edge and fold it down towards you by a centimetre, then sew all the way along it, creating a hem.

Next, fold the whole piece of fabric in half with right sides together and the hemmed edge running along the top. Your folded-over rectangle should now have one (short) hemmed edge, one (long) folded edge and two unfinished edges (one short, one long). Sew along the two unfinished edges, about a centimetre in.

Step 2: You should end up with an inside-out ‘bag’ that opens at the top. Turn your fabric the right way around and push out the corners. Stand your bag upright and fill it with rice or dried beans – test the weight as you go, until you’re happy it’ll hold the weight of a door.

Step 2

Step 3: Once you’re happy, bring the top hemmed edges together as per the photograph below – note the wedge shape of the bag, and where the seam is running (it’ll stand up better if it’s shaped this way). Pin your cord or ribbon in a loop in the centre, and pin and/or tack along the hemmed edges.

Step 3

Step 4: Sew all the way along the top edge, closing the bag up and catching the cord as you go. That way you’ve got a handle for picking up the doorstop, which you can also use to hang it from the door when it’s not being used.

Step 4

If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, or if you’re using quite thin cotton, you might want to make an inner bag to hold the filling. Just follow the same method as above using any old piece of thin fabric (you won’t see it – I used an old curtain lining) and pop it inside the ‘proper’ doorstop at step 2. Then follow the rest of the steps as normal.



Filed under Homes & Interiors, Sewing projects

And so it begins…

From top (the big light yellowish swatch), anticlockwise to end at the dark gold in the centre: Farrow & Ball Off-White, Dulux Gentle Fawn, Dulux Soft Truffle, Crown Period Colours Pale Gilt, Laura Ashley Faded Gold, Laura Ashley Old Gold

From top (the big light yellowish swatch), anticlockwise to end at the dark gold in the centre: Farrow & Ball Off-White, Dulux Gentle Fawn, Dulux Soft Truffle, Crown Period Colours Pale Gilt, Laura Ashley Faded Gold, Laura Ashley Old Gold

This is what pretty much every wall in our front room looks like at the moment, much to the husband’s annoyance. I’ve been talking about changing the colour of the walls ever since we bought a rug off eBay that turned out to be a) about 80 times bigger than I expected (my bad – my tape measure wasn’t long enough to measure up properly so I just, er, guessed) and b) very, very floral (yes, it was floral in the eBay photo, too – I think I might have been having a bad day).

'Scuse the mess, but you get the idea

‘Scuse the mess, but you get the idea

Those points aside, the boys seem to have been won over by what we’re affectionately calling The Granny Rug, so it looks like it’s here to stay. Which means my lovely Eau de Nil walls have got to go.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not remotely sad about this. I realised yesterday when I got my tester pots out and started swatching the place up, there is possibly nothing I like better than painting walls. If C hadn’t woken up from his nap, there probably wouldn’t have been an inch of Eau de Nil left. But that’s just it – I’ve never redecorated a room with a little (and ever-more mobile) boy in tow. Even the trip to Homebase to pick up colour charts turned into a complete Mission with a capital M. Something tells me this could get messy…

I do love a good tester pot

I do love a good tester pot

From top left, anticlockwise: Dulux Gentle Fawn, Dulux Muddy Puddle, (peeking out from the curtain) Dulux Perfectly Taupe, Laura Ashley Faded Gold, Dulux Soft Truffle, Crown Period Colours Imperial Gold, Crown Period Colours Pale Gilt

From top left, anticlockwise: Dulux Gentle Fawn, Dulux Muddy Puddle, (peeking out from the curtain) Dulux Perfectly Taupe, Laura Ashley Faded Gold, Dulux Soft Truffle, Crown Period Colours Imperial Gold, Crown Period Colours Pale Gilt


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Filed under Homes & Interiors