How To: Make a Wall Planner

Running a business can be very expensive, especially when you run one of those ‘kitchen table oh-my-god-all-my-time-and-money-is-poured-into-this’ like mine.
I have managed to step up from my kitchen table and have rented out a little workspace with the lovely Lucy from Lucy Made Me.
We have managed to furnish it on the cheap, using furniture from our own homes and a few bits bought from charity shops….and being creative types we have come up with a few other solutions too.

We don’t always work together at The Dairy (our workspace) as Lucy works 9-5 in London and I work shifts, so we needed some sort of world domination wall planner, and I wasn’t willing to pay for one.

Luckily I watched enough Blue Peter as a child to have a few tricks up my sleeve…

How to make a wall planner (1)
I had one of these super cool freebie calender from a magazine. Normally the calendars I manage to get for free suck, but I love the quirky crochet drawings on this one.

I took it apart and laid all the months in a 4×3 square and then reached for my secret weapon…dancing Pug tape.

 

How to make a wall planner (4) My husband bought me this tape for Christmas….he knows me soooo well.How to make a wall planner (2)I simply overlapped the pages of the calendar slightly and stuck them together. Funky Pug tape makes all the difference.

Now Lucy and I can plan out when all our fairs are and when we will be holding open studios too, and we can mark when we are away on hollybobs so the other knows.

I popped it up on the wall using washi tape so it didn’t mark our rented walls!How to make a wall planner (3)

Have you got a good use for a free calendar?

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How to: Make Felt Bread Play Food

How to make play bread felt food tutorial DIY

One of my friends is super talented and has created one of those ratty-old-cabinet to schmazing-dream-playkitchen that you see on Pinterest for her daughter. She sanded and painted and stitched away for weeks on it till it’s looking like something I wish my kitchen looked like.

For Christmas I thought that some felt play food would be in order to add to this little play kitchen of dreams so I grabbed my basket of felt scraps and put my mind to work.

In this post I’m going to show you how I made slices of bread…perfect for little hands to practice making sandwiches and toast.

How to felt bread play food (1)

Firstly I drew a bread slice shape onto a piece of card and used it as a template. I always make templates as I find it so much easier than cutting freehand as I always manage to muck it up! I cut 4 light brown bread slices.

I also cut two really long thin ribbons of darker brown felt for the crust.

I laid two light brown slices together and stitched them together, using the dark brown felt like bias binding, covering the edges. This ensured the bread was nice and thick and not floppy. Who likes floppy bread eh? No-one.

I did this as one process rather than two to save me time as I was handstitching. This could of course be done on a machine, but I liked the rougher look.

How to felt bread play food (2)

I stitched the entire way round, over lapping the felt crust slightly on one edge and stitching it securely.

How to felt bread play food (3)

This barely took any time and was quite theraputic!

How about teaming this with some square slices of yellow felt with holes cut in for Swiss cheese, some circles of pink for ham and some green lettuce leaf shapes?

Anyone else hungry now?

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Hello 2015

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So another 365 days has passed and I feel like I’ve achieved and discovered so much… it has meant that this blog has taken a backseat to my actual life and I’m sort of ok about it.

I thought I’d just swing in and tell you 5 things that I have loved about 2014.

1:- My discovery of country music.

Ok…I always knew it existed…but I’m now fully immersed into country music in a big way I started out by watching Nashville and loving all the music in that, and then Mr Pigeon found a country radio station on Spotify that we began listening to ‘ironically’…..we soon dropped all the irony and we found that we actually love it! It was our soundtrack to our holiday in October and I have spent most of the day today googling music videos on youtube….colour me obsessed.

2: – The Dairy

I am so so pleased that I met Lucy just over a year ago and who would have thought that we would have our own little studio space in Godstone before 12 months of friendship was up?

Dairy outsideWe are almost all set up there, but I find the space so productive as I have no option but to work through my to do list, listen to audiobooks and stitch my little heart out.

3:- New Ink

Disney ink beauty and the beast tattooThis year I managed to mix three of my favourite things; tattoos, Shakespeare and Disney. I know that large tattoos on women aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, as I’ve been told over and over AND OVER…but I like it and it makes me happy when it catches my eye.

4:- I can climb

I started rock climbing with Mr Pigeon, who has done it for years. He managed to convince me to go for a session in the late summer…selling it to me as ‘yoga up a wall’ and despite the sales pitch he is right! I really enjoy climbing as I can’t think about anything else whilst I’m doing it…all there is ‘where am I going to put my hand?’ and ‘oh god I’m going to fall off’… it’s actually very meditative in that way!

5- Making lots of cool stuff

Grey bunny on polka (1)Just like this little guy. I have had soooo many amazing comissions this year from fab folk and it has really pushed me creatively.

I cannot wait to do even more cool stuff (I have orders ready and waiting for me to stitch!) throughout 2015.

So resolutions…. this year I’m keeping it simple. Be happy, dance more, sing louder.

How about you?

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Blue Cheesed Butternut

There are few things in my kitchen that excite me more than when I am cubing up a butternut squash. I know that sounds a bit like I’m a mental person , but if I’m cubing a butternut squash then I’m prepping on of my favourite meals.

I think it is one of my favourites as it is so so simple. You whack it in , get on with some stuff in the garden or some housework and then eat it down wrapping yourself around the bowl as you scoff it.

All you need is a butternut squash, a good hunk of blue cheese, a handful of pine nuts and a splash of oil.

roast butternut squash with blue cheese and pine nuts receipe

Simply peel and chop your butternut squash into inch square chunks, drizzle with oil and bung in the oven to roast. I normally put them in for half an hour on 200.

My chooks love when we have butternut squash as they get all the seedy insides!

roast butternut squash with blue cheese and pine nuts receipe

Once roasted, sprinkle with bue cheese and pine nuts and devour with a spoon.

The salty blue cheese mixes so well with the sweet butternut squash. I normally use one butternut squash for two people, but I could be tempted to do this just for me and eat a MASSIVE bowlful!

Nomnomnom

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Lasting till Payday: Spend less on your water bill

Lasting till Payday header

It is utterly official… Mr Pigeon and I on average use half as much water as the ‘average’ couple.

saving money on your water bill

In fact, we use less than someone living on their own on a day-to-day basis….and yes…that is our actual water bill.

How do we do it? Well, I can assure you that we are squeaky clean, so it’s not the fact we aren’t washing, and Mr Pigeon works from home a lot of the time, as do I so it’s not like we are flushing ‘other’ toilets and washing our hands in other palces…. we just abide by some simple guidelines…

1: It doesn’t go on till it’s full.

Yes, yes, like mothers have told their children for decades, it doesn’t go on till it’s full. The two main culprits are of course the dishwasher and the washing machine. We make sure we fill ours with a full load each time before I hit ‘go’.If that means your machine only goes on twice a week, so be it.

You can reuse a side plate that has only had sandwiches on it you know, and that mug is good for at least a days worth of tea, you don’t need a clean mug every time, give it a rinse if you must…. but the less crockery you make dirty, the less times your dishwasher has to go on in a week.

Jeans don’t need washing EVERY TIME you wear them, in fact if you rotate wearing your pairs of trousers you can get 4-5 wears out of them before they need washing (unless you’ve split burger/milkshake/mud pies on them of course). I know that probably sounds super gross to some of you, but hey, I don’t smell and I work with teenagers…they’d soon tell me if I did…. and surely it’s only super gross if you aren’t wearing undies….and why the hell aren’t you wearing undies with trousers?!

2: Eco mode is your friend.

When your machine does go on, if there is an eco mode or a quick mode…use it. You’ll use less water, which is the point right?

3: Don’t throw it down the plug hole.

Your glass of water for through the night…still got half left in the morning but it’s looking a little manky? Got some water left over from boiling your eggs? Don’t throw it down the plug hole for goodness sake! Pour it into a pot plant, pop it in the dog bowl (they REALLY aren’t fussed about a bit of dust) pour it down your toilet so it uses less water next time you flush, whack it in your watering can for the greenhouse/garden on a dry day, throw it in the washing up bowl and use it to soak something later….just don’t throw it down the plug hole and then find you have to draw new fresh water for a job that doesn’t require it.

4: Rainwater is free.

You know we complain about the rain here in England? Well…why do we do that? Rainwater is freeeeeeee and can be used for all sorts around the home. We just collect the rainwater from our garage roof and we fill a very large water-butt in about an hour. During the winter we rig up and overflow system into an old wheelie bin that lasts us right through the summer dry spells. We use that water for all our pressure washing, watering the garden in summer, watering house plants, watering the chickens (not actual watering but you get what I mean), watering the greenhouse, and dog water. Yes…Chekhov drinks more from his garden bowl (read a massive orange flexi trug that we top up from the water-butt) than he does from his water bowl in the house….we think it’s because it doesn’t taste like human-y chemicals.Chekhov drinking from a bottle dog pointer cross

5: Showers are good.

We don’t have a bath in our house. I don’t miss it one iota as I fall asleep in them A LOT and am a drowning hazard so I have to bath with the door open (“I DON’T HEAR SPLASHING!”), but Mr Pigeon misses it a lot, but looks forward to going to hotels with work as he nows sees it as a real treat.

We in fact have a massive double shower, which is great for me as I can dance in there….true story. It is also great for washing the dog in when he is just TOO filthy for a quick swizz with the hose outside, he can shake in there all he likes without making a massive mess of my bathroom. Showers also save a lot of water if you compare the time spent in them to the amount of litres of water used. So shower, don’t bath to save water.

You can save more water by showering/bathing together too….just saying…

What are your saving water tips?

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A whole heap of news…

Challaborough bay beach & Burgh island Chekhov pointer collie cross dog under legs Ringmore Beach Ayrmer Cove Tomatoes Chillies green homegrown Chekhov pointer cross under desk cutie Chooks Chicken eglu classic run Beetroot sharpie rock marker peekabo chicken fence ginger Gus & Chekhov Pointer cross The Pigeon's Nest Lucy MAde Me gazebo Bletchingley Fair Dairy outside

So I’ve been off galavanting, living life and biting off lots of things that are far too big for me to chew! I mean…why change the habit of a lifetime?

We actually went on holiday. Last month Mr Pigeon, Chekhov and I went on our first family holiday on our own…yep…we got married and didn’t test drive that first…..and if you remember we didn’t have a honeymoon…..thankfully it went well!

We walked the coastal paths for miles and miles, enjoyed the beaches (Chekhov especially loved the beaches), ate endless amounts of naughty yummy stuff and relaxed. I run at a million miles an hour here at home with a to-do list as long as my arm and it was pure bliss to realise that I had NOTHING to do. We went out of season due to the cost and the dog having access to the beach, but we had decent weather…not that that worried me…and I’d definitely go at that time again.

I’ve also been hitting the garden pretty hard this year trying to make it work for us. Our courgettes were a wash out, but with the amount of green beans, tomatoes, beetroot, swiss chard and chillies we have harvested this year, as well as two little pears from our baby pear tree, we won’t be getting scurvy any time soon.

The chooks have been out and spreading their wings. We have sectioned off a piece of garden for them to free range in now as their scent was making Chekhov dig MASSIVE holes throughout the garden……I did joke a one point that we could open a golf course, but Mr Pigeon dutifully filled it all in and reseeded….and yes…I get ‘a look’ from him when I said anything about the lawn…

Chehov has been progressing really well with other dogs. We had a stage 6 months ago where he was attacking other dogs whenever they came near him through fear, we’ve worked hard and he has come out of the other side and now has some really nice doggie friends, like Gus, who lives next door and comes for play dates.

Mr Pigeon has changed jobs and been headhunted and all that sort of glorious stuff, meaning I get to focus more and more on my small business…apparently I married extremely well! Teehee. He’s very excited about having his dinner on the table and his shirts ironed for work and I have to admit I’m quite excited about doing those sorts of things!

I guess the biggest news is that behind the scenes I have worked hard with Lucy from Lucy Made Me and we have only gone and gotten ourselves a studio space! We’ll be blogging our adventures of being co-operative small businesses here.

Whew…..

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How To: shop for clothes at a car boot

When I challenged myself to buy no ‘shop new’ clothes until next August, I didn’t realise how good the pickings of second-hand clobber at car boots could be!

Car boot sales and selling your stuff quickly is actually quite attractive to a lot of people ranging in size and styles, and there is a lot of great stuff to be had. For me it beats eBay every time as you can touch and feel what you are buying (I’m a  feely toucher ok?!) and you can also avoid paying postage and gauge if it would fit you by eye, also it’s generally cheaper than charity shops.

Mums of Britain…there is a PLETHORA of fancy baby and children’s clothes and goodies being sold for 50p an item (and sometimes much less!!!) so get down there and have a rummage and save yourself a fortune! I cannot stress enough that any children I have in the future are going to barely have ANYTHING shop new, as the secondhand children’s market is blooming marvellous. I mean do people actually buy Moses baskets in the shops? I saw 8 last weekend….8 gorgeous Moses baskets for sale…. all for under £15 and in beautiful condition.

But what about adult clothing?….. I can already feel a few of you wincing at the thought of rummaging on a clothes rail in the middle of a field at 7am on a Sunday morning… but it really is painless…. and actually finding that bargain is one of my most favouritest feelings in the world…parrelled to eating something I have grown myself.

So here are my top five tips to shopping for clothing at car boot sales.

1 – Eye up the seller

The lady that looks like Wurzel Gummidge is very unlikely to by selling a sequin dress from Topshop, so cast your eye across the seller before you get on your knees and rummage to the bottom of the box of old dishcloths. This is also a good way to gauge the sizing of the clothing that the seller are trying to shift. This isn’t the be all and end all I might add, as there are a lot of bargains and lovely vintage to be had by people who are clearing out their wardrobes after 20 or so years. If you are after trendy stuff though, you want to aim for the 20 somethings who are doing the fairs with a friend or with their mums to make a bit of cash for the night out the following weekend.

2- Have a rummage

I once saw a girl literally dump a boot load of clothing onto a sheet on the ground and let people rummage through. £1 a piece she said, and oh lordy did I rummage. I came out with 5 gorgeous pieces, all from Topshop and River Island, all from the very bottom of the pile, threw my money at her and ran before I ended up buying too much (I was there selling at the time!). Rummaging is the fun of a boot fair. Rummaging doesn’t have to be hands on, I do a pretty good eye rummage now, but if something catches your gaze, be it a pattern or a fabric, pull it out and have a look, you can always fold it back up or hang it back up if it isn’t your sort of thing, people won’t be offended….honest!

Car boot finds floral

3 – What do you already own?

Now before you buy that black jacket…how many do you already own? Or will those zany neon hotpants go with anything else you already have? (Yeah… I know…they’ll go great with that rainbow sequinned boob tube you bought at the last table!)

There is no point wasting your money and clogging up your wardrobe with things you aren’t going to wear or that you have 4 of already (cough cough…grey cardigans…I have 3).

Car boot finds leopard print

I’m not saying go with a list, that’s the opposite of what you should do, but go with an open mind and a rough idea of what you DON’T need.

4- Know what it is worth

A Balmain inspired cropped Per Una lined jacket at £4 is an utter bargain. Yes…I know…to some of you I just put loads of words together and threw them in a sentence… but if you are really looking for the bargains, you need to know what you are looking at.

I have a basic working knowledge of fashion and clothing design, no more than the next girl who has watched Devil wears Prada. I do have the benefit of knowing about stitching from my time at my sewing machine and I have a good idea about fabric quality from my love of vintage fabrics and clothing, but most of it is about common sense and looking at labels.

Before you ask how much, think of the number that you would sell it for and think about what you’d be willing to pay for it.

When you ask how much, consider the answer and then have another look at what is in your hand. Before you hand over your money, is it worth what they are asking for it. Has it got any holes in the lining? Has it got any stains? Is the fabric all bobbley? My friends have seen me throw money and run as the item is well under what I feel its worth, and they have also seen me put it down and walk away to think about it as I walk around.

5 – Feel the fear and buy it anyway

I never never try ANYTHING on at the boot fair. I put things up against myself. I have even been known to take a tape measure with me. I have also just bought things because I think the fabric is beautiful despite it being several sizes too small….those things get made into home decor so I can look at the beautiful fabric forever!

Not sure a massive faux fur leopard print coat would suit you? They are selling it for £3…..feel the fear and buy that sucker…because you would look fabulous in faux fur…I mean who doesn’t!

I felt the fear and bought this frock anyway.

mint green lace dress £1 car boot sale

It cost me a £1 (from the bottom of the heap from the £1 an item lady) and it is like NOTHING I normally wear or I own. I wore it out last Saturday night and got so many compliments (in real life and via instagram!) and I felt great in it…. after an initial freak out before I left the house (“I look like an ice cream at a wedding!!”)…. and added more eyeliner and bracelets to rock it up a bit.

I would never have bought a dress like this from River Island at full price (£30 +), I wouldn’t have risked the colour (I like black…a lot) and I wouldn’t have risked the length (it’s a little on the short side…but as long as I don’t bend over I’m decent), but for £1 I had nothing to lose…expect maybe my dignity if it had been gusty out!

It’s the perfect opportunity to play with colours and styles that noramlly you’d be a bit frightened of.

Happy hunting!

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