February Lust List: mood lifters for chilly days

As I write, swathed in 4 layers of clothing and with an oil-fired heater cranking and spluttering at my ankles (searing hot ankles, since you ask; the rest of me is numb), the temperature outside is minus 2 degrees, and a focus on instant mood lifters seemed appropriate.  My 3 best recent discoveries, all under £50, are perfect for days like today when you just need a little something special to put a spring …
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Potato chitting

One of my grand New Year’s Resolutions (note to self: do not write when tipsy and full of ridiculous ambition…) was to create a chic kitchen garden outside the backdoor, which bloomed verdantly by day and bountifully produced all of the fruit and veg we could hope to consume.  Come dusk, it would gently scent the terrace and be something our friends would stroll through, glass in hand, exclaiming on its beauty and the …
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Ode to the Giant Cupcake Cake (an amateur’s guide)

The Giant Cupcake Cake.  It sounds so simple; a big, nay HUGE version of the failsafe My-First-Bake, everyone’s-a-winner cupcake.

So I thought as I contemplated the cake mould in the store last week, in anticipation of my best friend’s birthday brunch.  The double cup tin looked not so much like a cake mould as a cast-off from one of Madonna’s stage shows, glinting in its conical glory.  In fact like most great bras, it promised …
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Shoebox beds for mice (and dolls, and bears…)

My son is the proud owner of a grown-up proper bed, and insists on taking all visitors upstairs to admire it, and to admire also his technique in getting in and out and generally demonstrating the art of Taking To One’s Bed.  Every night, a new toy is invited under the covers to accompany him, and no-one is ever turfed out, meaning that after a week there is barely enough room for Harry and …
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5 Minute Makes: Placemats

I’m always looking for ways to keep my toddler distracted in restaurants in the time it takes between ordering his spaghetti (and it’s always spaghetti if he’s choosing), and it arriving at the table.  These table mats take 5 minutes to design and print-off onto A3 paper using simple clip art frames, and I’ve taken to keeping a stash in the car ready to whip out whenever life slows to an unpalatable pace for …
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And whilst we’re talking cardboard….

The wonderful and dangerous thing about moving house is that without warning you become drawn to homewares catalogues like a moth to a flame.  John Lewis suddenly makes a stealth entry into your ‘most visited’ sites lists and ne’er a day goes by without an interestingly large package arriving on the doorstep… or so my husband complains.  Still, a happy upside of this retail incontinence is that I find myself with a wealth of …
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Simple cardboard train

In our new house we have a huge open hallway adjoining a large room  which is currently empty (the new kitchen arrives in two weeks and counting…).  It’s a space just begging for play, and my toddler has spent the last week careering from one to the next, dragging balloons, toys and numerous random household items in his wake.  A pull-along train is definitely called for, if only to ensure safe passage for Wilberforce, …
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Experiments in art clay

Having uncovered a dusty pack of FIMO Air Microwave clay, I today set about rolling, cutting, stamping and experimenting, with a vague notion of making gift tags or hanging ornaments (the Christmas spirit is taking a while to wear off).  Initially pliable like clay, the alchemy of microwave and steam rapidly turns each piece into a light-as-air tag or pendant with the rough, organic feel of porcelain but a density similar to cardboard.  Definitely …
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