Tuesday 31 May 2011

Unwind in the garden

Nature Valley, beloved for making delicious granola bars, and now their scrummy chewy bars, have a great little competition going on over on their Facebook page.

Relax and unwind and spend some time creating your very own virtual garden.  Listen to the birdsong and see the ladybirds scooting around while you plot and plant your own haven.

50 of the best gardens will be made up for real and dotted around London to bring a little natural joy to the city.  But that's not all, you could win a year's supply of Nature Valley bars and tickets to the Secret Garden Party.

The contest ends this Friday 3rd June, so what are you waiting for? 

Here's my entry, and if you don't fancy having a go yourself, maybe you could vote for mine!! x

Sponsored post: I was sent some free samples, but have written this post of my own volition. Any views expressed are my own and I have received no financial reward to promote the product or contest.

Monday 30 May 2011

A lotta squash for your dosh

We all know that money's a bit tight at the moment, so the idea of a drink concentrate that goes that bit further sounded great to me. 

Robinsons Double Concentrate comes in five great flavours and contains no added sugar.  What's more, it's better for the environment and saves on packaging.

Robinsons contacted me to see if we were up for their great new craft campaign 'squash monsters'.  Of course we were, and they even sent us a couple of bottles of orange double concentrate to get us started.  Trouble was, a little really does go a long way so we've only just managed to empty our bottle and make our monster before the deadline of 3rd June.  There was a point where I felt like recreating their advert and wandering around the park with a tray full of drinks.

I love that Robinsons have created a campaign to help parents get kids excited about the simple tradition of arts & crafts again. Robinsons created a ‘Squash Monsters’ crafts challenge for kids, with the support of current kids TV presenter, Laura Hamilton, and ex Art Attack presenter, Neil Buchanan.

their site before the 3rd June 2011, for inspiration on how to get ‘a lot from a drop’ and be creative with the Robinsons Double Concentrate bottle. Watch videos of Laura making example squash monsters herself, read step by step guides on Neil’s creations and also follow hints & tips on how to make you own imaginative squash monster using materials from around the home and the Double Concentrate bottles.

Even better, upload a photo of your finished creation to their site and every entry is eligible for a prize, with the grand prize being a family holiday to Florida!  

Wanna see ours?

Introducing the 'love monster' christened by Ruby as 'Crunkle'.  She claims it's a love monster because it has hearts on it. Personally I think it's more to do with the Mr Luvva Luvva tash.

What do you think?

Crunkle the love monster is always ready for a cuddle.

Why not have a go yourself. Not long to go, so best get cracking. x

Sponsored post: I was sent samples of Robinsons Double Concentrate for the purposes of this review. however, no financial compensation has been received and the views expressed are my own.

Magpie Monday - Doing the Right Thing

This week I was very lucky with a find.

I spotted the perfume bottle standing on the table all forlorn.  More bits and pieces were being added to the table and I instantly sniffed 'fresh stock'.  I thought at first the glass perfume bottle was decorated with pewter - it was absolutely filthy and the metal was black.

But after picking it up, I thought it might just be silver.  The glass was very heavy and you could tell by looking at it it was good quality and fairly old.  The scratches on the base from years of use and the little etched number on the bottom of the glass made me think it probably wasn't one of those repro ones you pick up in hippy-crystal-and-incense shops.  The price ticket said £1.  So of course, I bought it.

Once we were home, I worked up a sweat with my silver polishing cloth, and sure enough a little while later I had one black cloth and one gleaming, shining silver perfume bottle.  I even uncovered the silver mark. I love it, it's so beautiful and will have pride of place on my dressing table.

However, I couldn't buy a silver perfume bottle for a quid! I couldn't sleep at night.  So I have since given them some more money.  Probably not as much as it's worth, but as much as I can afford right now.

Don't look at me like that.  Had I purchased this from some hapless boot stall holder, I would have slinked away and done the happy dance as soon as I was out of sight.  But I didn't buy it from a boot sale. I bought it from a charity shop.  Not just any charity shop, but a charity who are doing amazing things right now, and have a campaign I'm proud to support.  I bought my little bottle from my Save the Children shop.

If you've been about on Twitter or the bloggersphere recently, you must surely have heard of the #passiton campaign.  If you haven't heard about it, then in a nutshell Save the Children are lobbying World Leaders ahead of the summit on June 13th to fund vaccines for the world's poorest children and save 4 million lives.

Three bloggers, including the amazing Christine Mosler from Thinly Spread are heading out shortly to Mozambique where they will undertake the same journey as a vaccination along the 'cold trail' and see the conditions first hand.  Please help support them on this campaign 'No child Born to Die'

What can you do? Well, for a start you could spend less than a minute and sign the petition. I've signed it, I've badgered the old man to sign it and even Ruby has added her name to it.  Can you and your family do the same?

Click here to help save 4 million lives

If you're reading this blog post from your phone, then that is not an excuse my friend. No, no, no because you can sign the petition by text.

Simply text JAB to 84118.  Your text will be charged at your standard network rate. For terms and conditions please see http://savethechildren.org.uk/mobile

There are all sorts of amazing memes and tags going around blogland, but don't wait to be invited - jump in!  I've asked my brother and brother-in-law who are teachers if their schools can get involved. I've asked my other brother who is a fireman to see if his watch can all sign up.  I'm amazed by people's willingness to help - just ask and find out for yourself.

To somewhat mis-quote the amazing Ms Wendy James, they don't want your money honey, they want your love. x

I would be thrilled to bits if all of you who read and participate in Magpie Monday each week, could spare less than a minute to add your name to the petition.

Of course, I still want you to join the link up and share your treasure - and if you could pop a link to the petition on your post too so your readers can sign as well that would be fantastic x

Me and My Shadow
Grab my button
and link to my blog

Thursday 26 May 2011

Wipe out Waste with Johnson's Baby

Since becoming a mum, I've become even more concerned about the environment and about what state the planet will be left in for future generations.

Whilst I try to do my bit, there's always more that could be done.  As a family we recycle what we can, but our kerbside collections don't take everything that can be recycled.

Take baby wipes packets for example.  Many councils don't have the capability to deal with them.  Thankfully Johnson's Baby have now joined forces with Terracycle and have come up with an innovative new upcycling scheme.

Reusing a product and turning it into something useful (upcycling) is much better for the environment that recycling (breaking an item down into it's raw components and then making another material from it), and the Wipe Out Waste campaign will see old Johnson's baby wipes packs turned into new products like bibs, mats and bags.

Even better news, this partnership will see Terracycle working with Johnson's looking at the entire manufacturing process from the factory to the end consumer, and reducing waste as much as they can throughout the whole process.

From next month, you will be able to register online at wipeoutwaste and you will be sent freepost labels.  Collect your empty packets and then simply send them off to be made into something else.  You can also chose which of your favourite charities will benefit - Johnson's and Terracycle are donating 2p to charity for every empty packet they receive.

So why not get together with your friends or ask your nursery if they'll join in too.

Sponsored post: Special thanks to Johnson's Baby.  I attended an event hosted by Johnson's Baby and Terracycle.  They paid my travel expenses, provided lunch and a goodie bag, as well as arts and craft and a fabulous lunch for Ruby who had a ball!

Handmade Thursday - Cushions

I'm a little sad that my sewing classes have already come to an end.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning a new skill, meeting some lovely new people and, if I'm honest it was great to get out of the house one evening a week and do something for myself leaving him indoors to deal with the toddler-bedtime-traumas.

Hopefully what I've learnt on the beautifully behaved and well mannered machines provided during the lessons will translate to my rather more petulant and unpredictable machine at home.

My cushions are finally completed.  I've made them for Ruby's playhouse where she has rather more cushions than the soft furnishing department of John Lewis already. But still, she likes to cosy down with her books and her teddies 'upstairs' in the playhouse, and these two new additions make it even more snuggley.

Because I was too busy gassing on Twitter and not concentrating, I did mess up whilst cutting the fabric for the second one, so ended up having two cushions which are the reverse of each other.  Nevermind, I quite like this happy accident, and if anyone should ask then I shall tell them it was completely, deliberately intended.

I mastered the art of button-holes, which on the machine I used was a breeze.  It basically does it all for you, all you need to do is keep your foot on the pedal - my kind of sewing!

Armed now with my pattern and the knowledge of how to make a cushion which won't fall to bits, I'm planning to completely stuff our new house with soft furnishings (won't the old man be pleased?!).  I've already had a splurge on eBay, Ikea and a boot sale and now have an arsenal of fabby fabrics ripe for cushion-making.  I even picked up two brand new feather filled cushion pads at the boot sale for 50p.

By the way, you know I'm hugely needy I love comments and Blogger is up to it's tricks again. If you can't log in to leave comments and you want to, please leave it as 'anonymous' and leave you're twitter name. x

Pop on over to White Lily Green to see what everyone else has been making.

Inspire Me Beautiful

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Get Buggy Fit for Race for Life

One in three people will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives.  Isn't that a shocking statistic?

Up to recently, I've been one of the lucky ones.  Cancer has never touched my life - I haven't lost any of my family to it, I don't know anyone who has suffered or recovered from the illness, in fact if I'm totally honest, it is not something I've really thought about.

When I had my recent lump scare, my whole outlook changed.  Thankfully I got the all clear, but it suddenly made me see things differently, and appreciate how lives and whole families can be affected by this.

This year Tesco and Cancer Research UK will be joining forces to recruit one million women for Race for Life events all over the UK and raise an amazing £80 million towards the fight to beat cancer.  2011 marks the 10th year that Tesco has been sponsoring this national event and to encourage mums daunted by the 5k challenge they have teamed up with Buggyfit to offer a limited number of free fitness classes.

There are also some great tips by Paula Radcliffe who knows a thing or two about running after childbirth!

Log on here to find out about your local Race for Life and join thousands of other women raising money for Cancer Research.  You can walk, jog or run and many of the routes are suitable for buggies.

This is a sponsored post.

Naturally Cool Kids

Who doesn't want to use natural, organic products with no chemicals, parabens or SLS on their kid's skin?  Products which actually work, smell great and appeal to kids.

We recently got to try out the Hair and Body wash from Naturally Cool Kids, and it went down a storm - both with me and with Ruby.

Light and delicate to use on little one's skin, but still beautifully fragranced with mandarin and lavender. In fact, Ruby instantly recognised it as lavender (we have a huge bush in the garden) and was eager to have as many bubbles as possible.

Luckily for me, Naturally Cool Kids have thought things through (can't you just always tell when a product has been designed by a mum?).  It comes in a pump dispenser, meaning no faffing about unscrewing caps, and you can wash hair and generally get all bubbly without 'getting in a lather'.  One handed-action products are a god-send!  It also features a lockable pump making it ideal for travel or just to keep over-enthusiastic toddlers from using it all in one go (note to self, the pump lock is only effective if you make sure the pump top is screwed on tightly.  It didn't take my little Houdini long to realise the way around no pump was to unscrew the entire thing!)

The fact that it's a hair and body wash in one also makes it great for travel, cutting down on the amount of stuff you take away with you is aways a good thing...more room for toys; books; DVDs; kitchen sinks...

Check out Naturally Cool Kids - they have a range of products perfect for summertime including suncreams, lip and cheek protector and bug bands. Available online, branches of John Lewis and various independent retailers.

This is a sponsored post. I was sent the product free of charge for the purposes of this review. No financial reward has been recieved and the views expressed are my own.

Monday 23 May 2011

Magpie Monday - Auction Fever

It's years since I've been to our local auction house, but on Friday afternoon, finding ourselves footloose and fancy-free (read Ruby was at my Mum's) we decided to pop in for the viewing session to see what delights were on offer.

It used to be a regular weekend activity. We'd go on Friday evening, jotting down interesting lots on notebooks then scurry home to look them up on eBay.  On the Saturday morning we'd join the throng of wheelers and dealers and clear up on the 'retro' items which hadn't reached the radar yet of the aged regulars. 

My auction house experiences go back a lot further than that though. As kids my parent's would often take us round the Friday evening viewing and we'd cavort about bashing hell out of the pianos, jumping on the piles of antique rugs and getting told off by the grumpy porters.  My dad would sometimes come home with a manky looking chaise longues or Victorian drop-end sofas spewing their horse-hair stuffing, and take them to his upholstery evening classes.  My mum's not averse to buying the odd item - chandeliers, bookcases, and famously, a pianola (which she bought for the box of rolls which came with it!).

Having made my list of items of interest, I turned up on Saturday morning on a rare trip out sans child.  Even though I hadn't been regularly for at least 4 years, there were still loads of faces I recognised, and I even got a couple of 'welcome back' hugs from some of them!

If you've never been to an auction, then you really should.  Nothing is quite the same - the smell of mothballs and camphor oil, the eclectic mix of people, the banter and the oddly hypnotising sound of the auctioneer: "Five, five, ten? Ten anywhere? Ten, fifteen, fifteen, who'll give me twenty..."

Times have changed though, I could no longer face joining the queue of flat-caps for a greasy egg and bacon butty and a polystyrene cup of gnats pee tea. Instead I sneaked out next-door to the Italian coffee house for a panini and a cappuccino - how very middle-class!

I won my first lot which was for two mirrors - only one of which I wanted.  I did get a little carried away and ended up paying £22 for it, but I love old bevelled mirrors, and this was such an unusual shape.

It's hard to photograph, but you get the idea - it has a scalloped edge to it, almost a flower shape.

Unfortunately, there's a small chip at the bottom which I'm pretty sure wasn't there when I viewed it the day before, but that's the risk you take.

Next up was a wooden 'tool chest' which I thought would make a great box for keeping my sewing machine, fabric and scissors in.  Some moron decided to paint the interior in white gloss and didn't stop when they reached the lip, so you can see white all around the lid, but I'm hoping some Nitromors or a good sanding will get rid of it.  I was just about to take this out to the car when I thought to ask the porter "I don't suppose you have the key to this do you?"  He produced a selection of keys from the pocket of his white overall and lo and behold found one to fit.  Bonus! I now have a lockable chest.  I paid £24 for it but shhhh, I told the old man it was less than £20!

If you go along to an auction, I dare you to bid on a 'mixed lot'.  It's like a lucky dip for 2nd-hand junkies.  Invariably it will mostly be toot, but there's always sure to be one or two worthwhile items in there.  One mixed lot was called out by the auctioneer as "a gentleman's ebonised cane, a tummy trimmer, a board game and a pair of court shoes".  Something for everyone methinks.

I had my eye on a huge pitcher jug, but unfortunately it was bundled into a lot of two cardboard boxes full of tat.  Still, I managed to get the lot for £6 and instantly sold two other hideous vases to a dealer for £6, making it free, yipee!!  There was another dealer hovering who said he'd give me a couple of quid for the rest because there was some cutlery he might be interested in.  I bet!  When I got it home there were some solid silver spoons in there!  Luckily the dealer had disappeared so I didn't sell it on.  There were one or two other bits of kitchenalia which I might put on eBay (a Tala icing set and a vintage wooden handled bread knife) so I may even end up in profit!  After all, I only wanted this 12 inch jug with it's turquoise band.

I happened to be standing next to a box of old papers and magazines, and had been flicking idly through them.  The 1923 copy of the Poultry Keeper was a riveting read, and when the number was called and nobody bid, my hand seemed to just mysteriously go up.  The box was mine for £2.

It had tonnes of gazetteer editions, which I thought I might use the maps from for something crafty. But I got home and found they were from 1892, I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to cut them up - after all they've survived intact for over 100 years.  They do have lots of postcard style advertising inserts for various soaps, so I'll probably frame a few of them up - perhaps not the wildly inappropriate and racist ones though!

Also in the box is a 1921 edition of Punch, full of beautiful illustrations.

A beautifully art deco copy of Hutchinson's Story Magazine, featuring novellas by the likes of Rider Haggard.

A 1920's copy of the New Magazine with a glorious front cover

and the one that tickled me - The Wide World - the magazine for men

which carries some hilarious advertising of the time, like the publication "Manhood - the Facts of Life presented to Men".

"Sanely written, in strong, clear, crisp language, full of force and directness, yet dignified and free from course allusions, the book enlightens on the great sex-topic.  Untold misery has been caused by ignorance; this book will banish the darkness."  - Strong stuff no doubt for 1919!

The adverts all suggest that the readers seemed to suffer from the same conditions, they all being concerned with shortness, stammering, nervousness and 'fatness'.

Seriously, I have spent hours chuckling at these.  I love the ones promising that the application of electrical probes is a panacea for all ills, and will restore vigour.

And how about this for a bit of 1920's thriftiness - when your husband's suit is looking worn and tired, don't throw it away, simply get it turned inside out!

So there we have it.  Those are the items I did buy.  I managed to show restraint when the pretty little Japanese lacquered jewellery box I was after reached the dizzying heights of £55 and bowed out gracefully at £20.  There was one item however, that I was so sorely tempted to buy.  Just for it's pure, unadulterated kitschness.  I mean, it's not often you see a 3ft china statue of a flamingo is it? Some lucky beggar got him for £2.  When I mentioned to the old man that I was very tempted, he replied "oh, I'm glad you didn't buy it, it had a bleedin' great crack up it". Ha!  I take that to mean this was the only problem with said 3ft flamingo.  So, if you ever see a pristine model flamingo on your travels, be sure to give me a shout, because that comment from him is about as near to permission to purchase as I ever get!

And please tell me I'm not the only person to see this and then be completely unable to get this song out of my head.

If you've been buying anything 2nd-hand, I'd love you to grab the badge and link up.

Me and My Shadow
Grab my button
and link to my blog

*check with your local auction house - some require you to pre-register before bidding, and most will charge a buyers commission of around 10% of the hammer price. As well as being a fruitful ground for people-watching, you can pick up some amazing furniture bargains. I saw a pine dining table & four chairs sell for £15, a leather double bedstead for £10 and a pine TV cabinet for £5.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Bags of Happiness

Finally I get to show you a finished article from my sewing classes!  The cushions are still not yet done as I've decided to add buttons, and I've yet to attempt the dark art of buttonholes.

This week we made tote bags.  Fantastically straightforward, I managed to make this in one session of an hour and a half.  Not bad considering it was the first attempt.  Surely I'll be whizzing them up like there's no tomorrow soon.

I've got enough fabric left so I can make a mini-me version for Ruby, then we can be all matchy-matchy when we go out.

It's already had it's inaugural shopping trip, and lived up to the task admirably.

I need to work on my straight lines clearly. Anyone would think I went to class half-cut.

Massive thanks to my super-patient teacher Jo at School of Craft for her fab lessons.  Check out her blog too.

Linking up with Handmade Thursday, click the badge and pop on over to see what other's have been up to.

Inspire Me Beautiful

Tuesday 17 May 2011

This is me - This is my future

My lovely twitter friend Maggie over at Red Ted Art is involved in a really great thing.  In addition, because she's so lovely she's getting her friends involved too.

You see, Save the Children have launched this to support their "No Child Born to Die" campaign.

In January Save the Children launched it’s most ambitious campaign to date, No Child Born to Die. Every year 8 million children under five die from illnesses we know how to treat or prevent, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.

Save The Children is focusing on the provision of vaccinations and healthcare workers. In June there is a meeting in London hosted by David Cameron and attended by other world leaders. Save The Children aims to make as much noise as possible to ensure the funding shortfall for vaccinations (4.7 billion) is met by all the donor countries.

If this funding gap is met the vaccines that could then be provided would save the lives of millions of children.

This week 3 bloggers/ vloggers are going to Mozambique to follow the journey of a vaccine from the coldstore in the city right down to a rural community. They will write, make films and tweet about their experiences, the children and families they meet and the challenges of “cold” vaccinations in hot countries.

This bloggy crafty challenge is designed to support their work – to spread the word about their No Child Born to Die campaign and to highlight the funding shortfall for vaccines.

We tend to take for granted how lucky we are that our children have a future to look forward to.  With access to medical services, along with education, plentiful food and safe water our children will flourish and already dream of what they want to be when they're grown up.

Maggy's challenge therefore is:

1. Get your child to either draw or craft a self portrait of themselves now or in the future. Check out our self portrait on some tips to get the littlies interested! even a simple circle with dots and lines is sufficient for us!!!

2. Sign the Save the Children petition and then pass it onto your friends

3. Write a blog post about it as soon as possible, including info about Save the Children and the petition. We want as many people linked up AND signed up the petition by Sunday 29th May 2011

4. Tag 8 fellow blogger friends

5. Come back and link up your posts, so we can all share your craftiness

6. If you have time, visit each other posts and say hello!

So this has resulted in a really interesting chat with Ruby.  She's been quite certain for some time about where her future career lies.  Sounds to me like she's going to be a busy lady, because she'll have not one, not two but three roles.

First up, her biggest passion is with trains and has been for ages - well a long time for a 3 year old!  She is quite clear she wants to be a train mechanic and fix engines.  This is her enduring career of choice, but since our dog got poorly and we visited the vet's, she quite fancies a go at that too.  She wants to be a 'vet doctor' so she can make all the animals better, and use a stethoscope.  In addition to this, she added this morning that she'd also like to be an astronaut and fly to the moon.

I did ask her if she's have time to visit her poor old mum with all this going on, but she looked at me like I was crazy and said "but Mummy, I'll be a grown up!"

I love the fact that she hasn't conformed to gender-stereotypes

So, how to combine a crafty piece of art to encompass all this?  We decided to go for a collage, and trawled the net for pictures of aforementioned roles.  This gave Ruby a chance to practice her cutting (I guess she might need this in the animal medicine field).  She added some tin foil stars and a crayoned train picture to finish the masterpiece!

What do you think?  I'm keeping hold of this so we can compare notes in 30 years time.

Quick - get that girl an anorak

Pigs in space?

So, here's the tricky bit. I've done the craft, signed the petition, now I have to #passiton.

I'm tagging these lovelies:

@mummiafelice White Lily Green
@superluckydi Super Lucky
@helloitsgemma Hello its Gemma
@caroljs Dance without sleep
@multiplemummy Multiple Mummy
@maris_world Maris World
@cafebebe Cafe Bebe
@PippaD A Mother's Ramblings

Please don't run away! It's for a very good cause :0)

When you're done, link up here and take a look at who else has been getting involved.

The Green Chain

PriceMinister launched a great new eco-blogging initiative.  The Green Chain enables bloggers to raise money for charity just by taking part in in their eco interview.  For each interview blogged, they will donate £10 to one of three great environmental charities - Surfers Against Sewage, Trees for Cities and the Young People's Trust for the Environment.

You can also tweet or join the Green Chain Facebook page as well as blogging, PriceMinister will donate an extra £1 for each. You can read all about The Green Chain and how to take part here.

I was tagged a little while ago by the lovely Di over at Super Lucky, and apologies because whilst I love this idea my mind has been elsewhere and I'm only just getting around to it now. Tssk tssk.

Here is my interview, and if you're also 'super lucky' I may have tagged you!

Turning the heating down by just one degree in your house saves 240kg of CO2 a year. It would take eight trees to soak up this amount of CO2! Are you currently doing anything to make your home eco-friendly?

We were recently offered a home energy survey by Sainsbury's Energy which would look at aspects such as insulation, energy consumption and heating, but as we are in the process of moving home we haven't undertaken it.  I do plan to book it for our new home though.

Living in Victorian houses it is more difficult - we currently have single glazed sash windows and no cavity wall insulation.  The new house does have replacement windows and solid fuel fires.  One of the first jobs there will be to update the boiler for a newer, more efficient model.

Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface, now they only cover 2%. How are you reducing your use of paper?

We rarely buy newspapers anymore, preferring to keep up to date by reading online. All the magazines and newspapers we do have are recycled.  I try to re-use magazines and cardboard packaging when doing craft activities with Ruby, and try to avoid excessive packaging when shopping.

At PriceMinister we believe that trading second hand items online is a great way to extend the life span of products. Have you ever thought of buying or selling second hand items on or off line?

Ooooh, you're preaching to the converted here!  There's hardly anything in my home that isn't 2nd hand.  I'm an avid fan of charity shops, jumbles, car boot sales, ebay, freecycle...

I host a weekly feature on my blog called Magpie Monday so people can link up their 2nd-hand purchases and hopefully encourage others to buy pre-owned.

One of the biggest environmental challenges we face is Freshwater Shortages. Are you taking measures to reduce your water consumption?

This is an area we could be better at.  Unfortunately our daughter is in the habit of having a bath every night before bed, as well as a shower in the morning.  I know this isn't strictly necessary, but I pay the consequences if I deviate from her routine - in the form of no sleep!

I have made a small adjustment to our downpipe from the bathroom, putting an extra elbow in.  This means in the summer, when I pull the plug on her bath, I can divert the water straight into buckets and watering cans rather than down the drain. Last year we managed to keep our entire veg patch and garden going by re-using this bathwater, along with rainwater from our water butts.

I also only use the washing machine and dishwasher when we have a full load, turn off the tap when brushing teeth, and the other half follows the 'if it's yellow let it mellow' approach to toilet flushing.  I'm not so keen!

How do you choose the produce that goes into your shopping basket?

I used to only try and buy organic produce, items with low air miles, fair trade products etc etc, but money's tighter now.  I do attempt to watch my food waste, make meals from scratch avoiding over-processed or ready-made meals. We also try to have at least one meat-free day a week.

I recently gone back to using a milkman - milk delivered in re-usable bottles, delivered by electric float!

What is your favourite green space near home?

I'm going to say my garden! I guess that's not what you mean, but I shall really miss it when we move. We're blessed with an enormous garden and vegetable patch.  Plenty of space for Ruby to play outdoors and get lots of fresh air.

Which charity will you support and why?

I'd like to donate to the Young People's Trust for the Environment a charity which aims to educate and inform youngsters about sustainability.

Please give us the url of a fellow blogger (or bloggers) you would like us to contact to raise an extra £10. 

I'd like to tag Kay at Brink of Bedlam; Maggy at Red Ted Art and Tattooed Mummy.

Monday 16 May 2011

Magpie Monday - Button Love

My new-found sewing hobby has opened up a whole new avenue of shopping opportunities.  This week I was drooling in the haberdashery department in John Lewis looking for some buttons to go on the cushions I've been making.  I know I'm probably boring you now, but I was so totally, gobsmackingly staggered at the price of buttons, that I just keep muttering about it.

I wanted large buttons (think raincoat sized buttons), and the ones on offer in that 'never knowingly undersold' store were £5 EACH!!!  £5 for one button!!! Can you believe it?

Had they been carved from ancient elk horn or hand crafted by Tibetan Monks then maybe. But no, these were plain old plastic buttons - £5!!!

The good folk of Twitter came up with lost of useful tips on finding cheaper buttons and searching out vintage ones and I did find the exact ones I wanted on Ebay - £2.50 including postage for 6 buttons.

Lots of people suggested charity shops for sourcing, but after running one for years and volunteering in various others, we'd never had button boxes so I assumed others didn't either.  I've also never seen buttons for sale in charity shops.  But I asked at the counter and each time the assistant brought out a huge tin from out the back or under the desk.. There's something quite naughty about asking for things from under the counter (even if it is only buttons) and leaves me feeling quite special - like I'm in the inner circle or something!

I spent a really really happy hour in Save the Children chatting to the volunteer there, reminiscing about sorting my Nana's button box, while we happily sifted through piles and piles of treasure on the counter.  She told me all about her grandshildren and we generally had a good old natter.

Some gorgeous buttons took my eye, and I can away beaming after buying them for 10p each.

Some unusual bakelite square ones.

Some tiny, intricate metal ones with either embroidery or stones - one is marked on the back AP couture, Paris - imagine the garment that came from!

This perfect beauty with shell and filigree design

These cute little china heart shaped ones

Then of course, as is the way, I started spotting them everywhere.  I picked up two small bags full in another charity shop for 50p each

Then at a car boot sale yesterday I found the perfect tin for keeping my most special buttons in.  I intend to colour sort most of them and have them in jars, but the really special ones will be kept safe here

It's an old toffee tin and I'm fairly sure these are baby magpies. Well, that's what I'm telling myself anyway. How perfect is this, and I haggled too and got it for 50p.

So, what treasure have you found? I'd love you to grab the badge and link up, I can't wait to see. x

Me and My Shadow
Grab my button
and link to my blog