Thursday, 31 July 2014

Books to help you Make Do and Mend

We've all heard the Make Do and Mend message from wartime Britain, but many sewing books from that time assumed a great deal of knowledge and skill. Once passed on from generation to generation, the ability to replace a zip, mend tears and take up a hem can no longer be taken for granted. Sewing on a button is something many of us procrastinate over, let alone turning an old shirt into a child's nightdress as they did in the 40s, when clothes were rationed.
As readers will be aware, I am the kind of person who makes bathroom curtains from a bed-sheet, so I was delighted to happen across Little Fixes: 54 Clever Ways to Extend the Life of Kids' Clothes. Although I am a firm believer in hand-me-downs, and buying second-hand, I am always pleased to learn of ways to extend the life of my children's clothes, especially since they often get attached to certain outgrown garments.

Author Disney Powless offers penny-pinching creatives like myself free reign in the re-purposing department, encouraging us to see a too-small puffer jacket as a potential gilet, last year's cuddly sweater as wrist - or leg -warmers, and half-mast trousers as summer shorts.

What is more, this book of 54 restyling projects for toddler to teen includes instructions on how to insert that wonderful invention: an adjustable waistband.

I particularly like the way that all Powless' creations are worn by real kids, rather than models; their "before" and "after" expressions add another helping of joy to what is a practical and inspiring book. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Made In Britain #1: Summerlovin' with woohoo!

Like mousetraps and nit combs, personal lubricant may be an item that you never expected to find on your shopping list.

Even though vaginal dryness (there, I've said it) affects one in five women before the age of fifty, and HALF of post-menopausal women, it's a symptom that we may find difficult to discuss with our partners and our GP. For this reason, even if we do decide to buy personal lubricant, we are often embarrassed about getting advice on what to pick, plus - unlike with salad dressing, for example - it's not a product label many of us will stand around reading and comparing. With lubricant, it might be a matter of choosing the first one you see, or the brand that you know, and hiding it in your shopping basket while queuing to pay with a "don't look at me" expression.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Clean Enough: DIY Multi-purpose Cleaning Spray

Monday is my cleaning day. If it doesn't get done on Monday, it waits til the next week. Thus when I am feeling like superwoman, the skirting boards get a wash-down, the mattresses are turned, the windows cleaned. On normal days, I clean the bathrooms and kitchen, plus floors, and that's about it. There are benefits to living in a house awaiting new carpets. For a year.

So I am by no means a professional home-maker. My name shouldn't really be on the same page as Jenni Mullinix who, while encouraging us all to drop our perfectionist tendencies in a bid to reducing the stress of running a home, clearly is a lot further on in responding efficiently and gracefully to the high calling of being a housewife. 

It was Jenni Mullinix's motivational and practical e-book Clean Enough however, that I turned to this week when my cleaning spray ran out. Being miserly as I am, I hadn't wanted to waste the shop-bought product even though I know it is relatively bad for the environment. On the plus side, I was going to re-use the bottle, so don't sue me yet, Friends of the Earth.

To make Jenni Mullinix's Multi-purpose Cleaning Spray, you will need:

Monday, 30 June 2014

Three Good Times to Go Nude

As I like to pretend I'm living in the 1940s 80% of the time, I'm a fan of that "badge of courage", red lipstick. Shades like this one, by Barry M, make me feel womanly, confident, don't care-ish. But it can be high maintenance. And there are times when I want to be less full-on. Paradoxically, these are the perfect times to go nude.
A nude shade says "I have made a bit of an effort". While I tend to go barefaced most of the time anyway, if I do succumb to war-paint, it's often the full works - eyeliner, mascara, lipliner - the business. If I'm wearing blusher, I'm really serious. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Feed the birds from a milk container

A bird in our garden is An Event. We see a sparrow, we call other members of the family to come and look, by which time it'll have probably flown off. Our green-fingered neighbour, Ms Radio, has invested in a Proper Bird Seed dispenser, with positive results. So it made sense, when the King and Prima were off planting flowers at the nearby Millennium Green with other community-minder souls, for Secundus and I to make a bird feeder out of junk. 

Create your own no-cost bird feeder - adult help/ supervision required - with the following items:

An empty milk container, with top

String, long enough to make a loop for hanging your feeder where you want it to be, such as on a branch or from an unused hanging basket bracket.

A marker pen

Scissors (no running with scissors!)
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