Polystyrene – it goes the wrong way

Since we first moved in, almost a year ago, acquiring a kitchen blind has been on our urgent todo list.

Yes, urgent jobs get done fast in this house!

It’s urgent because anyone sitting in our garden of an evening can see right into our kitchen and hallway. It’s not been done yet because I can’t really imagine anyone sitting in our garden of an evening other than Chris and I… except the cat… and our upstairs neighbours … oh and
the hoards of people who jump over the wall and crawl through the jungle at the foot of our garden just for a quite sit on our lawn.

I’m obviously kidding about the last bit, at least I hope I am. Especially given my habit of forgetting to grab a dressing gown for nighttime visits to the toilet .

So, after a year of procrastinating I have finally gathered all I need to make the blind. A surprise gift of a gorgeous scarf from my sister gave me aan idea for how to decorate it.


Cat scarf. Soz about the terrible photo it is loverly


I initially wanted to make potato stamp cats but couldn’t imagine finding a potato big enough. I wanted big cats. Jacket potatoe sized at least. Luckily my art teacher big sis and my crafty mum had some suggestions. Cut a rubber stamp from… a rubber they told me. (As in a pencil eraser all you sniggering school kids!)
Not wanting to buy new rubbers just to make stamps and sure I wouldn’t find 2nd hand giant rubbers (stop sniggering) I had a brainwave. Discarded polystyrene takeaway containers.

I was excited.
Mum and Frankie were skeptical.

Polystyrene goes the wrong way my mum told me crypticly. My sister agreed immediately – polystyrene isnt what you want she explained .
Why? I asked. 
My sister frowned in an effort to explain. it just… well…it goes the wrong way. My mum nodded enthusiastically.

I was nonplussed, they sounded a little like euphemistic homophobes from the 1970s giving me dating advice and I’ve never been good at accepting dating advice. Ask any of my flatmates.

Realising that I wasn’t going to give up on my foolish polystyrene dreams my mum handed me a Biro and a scalpel. You’ll need these she told me with the air of someone waving off a kamikaze pilot. I didn’t like to refuse and into my bag they went.

So, last Sunday, sitting on the floor in my dressing gown armed with only a Biro, I laid out my materials.
Printout sillhoettes of cats, check.
Glue gun, check
some pallet wood off cuts, check
Scalple, check
Selection of empty takeaway containers fished out of my mum’s recycling bin or found on the pavement outside my house. check!


Now, let me tell you. Polystyrene. It goes the wrong way!

You want to cut out a shape? A shape that looks like something? A shape that looks like something you want to stamp on your kitchen cutains? Good luck my friend, good luck! Because polystyrene is well and truly batting for the other side.

On my mums advice I used the Biro to draw round my cat shape.


Apparently this helps guide your cuts so they go your way rather than the polystyrene’s way.


Even with a Biro to whip my polystyrene into shape this took ages. But I was jubilant. At the risk of sounding like Frank Sinatra I did it my way!

Suddenly I had a horrible thought. What if the paint slid off the shiny plasticky surface?!? I phoned my sister in panic. She wasn’t comforting. It might well do she told me. That’s why we suggested using rubbers.
Taking pity on me as i wailed down the phone about the time spent bullying polysterene. she told me to paint the stamp with a brush rather than dip it in the paint. Then, slightly less reassuringly, she wished me luck and put the phone down.

At that point, Chris, always a realist, asked- wont the polystyrene melt when you try to hot glue it to the wood?


I felt attacked by problems on all sides. Unsure of how to cope I did the only sensible thing possible. I went and spent a few hours blowing rasberies for my friends Jess and Rod. Their lovely son has learnt to blow raspberries and he values any new performer that his parents can lure into the house.

After a dribbly spittle filled respite I returned to my cats with purpose. And made a simple test run to quell my fears.


It totally worked!

Fired up on raspberries and with no further fears to stop me I got moving. A week later- don’t judge me, I am soooo scared of my mini glue gun- I have cat stamps.

Success. The end.

What, you thought you were going to see pictures of my finished kitchen blind? Up on the wall? Preventing me from flashing the neighbourhood cats? Really? I’m touched you still have that much faith in me but come on.
That blind is well and truly on the pinterest graveyard.


Baking up a Bathscrub

Presents whoop. Gotta love presents.

Unless of course we are talking about a present you secretly hate but have to pretend you totally love because it obviously cost megabucks.

Oh and the whole present thing isn’t so hot when its Christmas Eve and you still haven’t found a fabtastic gift for your favourite dad.

And its definitely less whooptastic when you’re moving house next week and your best ever friend gifts you a huge and fairly creepy stuffed Bison head that you will now have to pack into a box and move across town ( or strategically lose with unbelievable speed and so jeopardise you friendship).

Ok so that last one hasn’t actually ever happened to me but I’m just saying, if it did it would put a dampener on the whole present thing,  you know.

Since I started aiming zerowastewards presents have definitely been different.

Sometimes different as in, more stressful – eg scouring a charity shop for something, anything your mate would like for her birthday yesterday . Golden rule.  One does not go last minute 2nd hand shopping with purpose. 2nd hand is all about the browsing and the unexpected treasures.

Different as in,  more fun – tickets to the sort of thing we would have talked about going to but then forgetten about.

And usually different as in – far more tasty – mainly because when all else fails we gravitate to edible presents. No waste to landfill if you eat it all. 😉

One present idea I liked so much I stole from Lucy over at Lulastic and the Hippyshake was a homemade body scrub packaged in a Retro teacup. Its perfect because even if the recipient hates the body scrub at least they get to keep the cup at the end.

I tweaked Lucy’s recipe, using sugar instead of salt and playing with the scents but the basic idea is the same and its super simple.


Home Made Body Scrub


One cup of coconut oil (I found this in my local Turkish corner shop in a glass jar but its also available on line.)

One cup of caster sugar

Plus scent

The petals from one rose head and a teaspoon of homemade vanilla essence. (I make my vanilla essence by soaking a whole pod in rum for 4 weeks and then keep topping up for, like, ever)


A handful of lavender leaves and heads all crushed up as fine as possible.


This is very complicated so listen up. There will be a test at the end.

  1. Grind your chosen scent to little fragrant bits
  2. Thoroughly mix your oil and sugar. The oil has the consistency of butter so this bit is a little like making a sponge cake. With this in mind I will pass on the advice my baking mate Russ once provided.“Beat that butter like you’ve never beaten before. No, harder!  That’s pathetic! Why are you stopping!? Keep beating! BEAT GIRL BEAT ! Oh for god’s sake give me the fork.”The first time I made this I hand mixed with a fork. It was bloody hard work and the end result was… lumpy.The next time I wised up and used my food mixer.  It beats much better than me and I figure coconut oil and sugar are both edible so what’s stopping me? The result was fab, proper creamy and professional. I definitely advise the food mixer method. Less wrist pain, more present mojo.
  3. Stir in your chosen scent
  4. Pop the mixture into a vintage teacup you found at the market for 50p
  5. Plonk a matching/mismatching saucer on the top and tie with a bit of ribbon.
Tea cup wrapping

Tea cup wrapping


Obviously you can tell you mate it took hours to prepare and the cup cost mega bucks at the local Hipster shop if that’s the way you roll but for some reason I can’t help blurting out how ridiculously cheap and easy it was to make. My friends always seem to forgive me – hopefully because it looks so lovely.

I’m thinking about doing some herby ones next time using rosemary or lemon or some such things. I guess anything that smells good and isn’t a skin irritant would work brilliantly.

As Lucy says this stuff is so lush on your skin you don’t need any other products and I always make a spare cup for myself. Its honestly the only shower/bath product I actually use nowdays except shampoo and conditioner.

Everyone’s a winner! Thanks Lucy

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Street found Cupboard

With all the fabby sunshine going on we’ve been right slack about all things flat related. No time for DIY, blogging or if I’m honest even much cleaning when there is so much picnicking, sunbathing and river splashing to be done.

However, with a few days of downpour we finally had a chance to finish a few projects that have frankly been cluttering up our lives.

First up a cupboard I found on the street. It was ugly and a bit sorry looking and sat atop a bin. What’s not to love about that?

Street found cupboard

It even came with someone else’s rubbish! Bargainacious.

Opened up to find more discarded stuff

Opened up to find more discarded stuff

I started well. Only days after I picked it up I got painting. Unfortunately me and paint aren’t the best of pals. I’m less scared of paint than I am of my glue gun (my glue gun freaking terrifies me – I still have a gluey knee patch on a favourite pair of £1 jeans)
I’m great at paint prepping. I wash, I dry, I sand, I clean and then it all falls apart. I never prime. Never. I’m just too overexcited to mess about with some dull grey primer. I want to get my chosen paint on now, as in, right NOW! and I’m always positive I’ll only need a coat or two.

If I’m honest it’s not a great recipe for happiness. In fact if you also find some random pots of paint abandoned in your flat from the previous owner and decide to use them it’s more a perfect way to precipitate misery. 4 million coats later having run out of one colour then found the next colour didn’t cover the first colour and then that the second colour looked mank and that the third colour needed 6 coats (well almost)  to cover the second colour I had a cupboard I quite liked.

I should have stopped there. I should have got that cupboard on the wall and started using it. In fact i tried. I cleared out our original bathroom cupboard and moved it to the spare bedroom… and then my energy ran out. All the endless coats of paint had broken me. So for he past 2 months the street cupboard has sat on our living room floor and we have had almost nothing in our bathroom. Only what will fit piled precariously on the edge of the sink or bath.

My great idea was to borrow a lulutastic trick of spray painting through lace to make a cool negative pattern bit I didn’t want to buy a new can of gold paint – Aerosol cans being so superwasteful. I was sure someone I knew had a half empty can sitting about unused and unloved… I just didn’t know who.  Last week my mum turned up trumps arriving to visit with a mountain of fruit (long story) and a can of gold paint.

I squeaked, gave her a hug and got spraying. Then I reflected and asked Chris what he thought. It turns out that he thought that he quite liked the cupboard pre gold-spray.


Then I asked myself what I thought. It turned out I thought that I also preferred the cupboard pre gold-spray.

Double shit.

I guess lulastic has the magic touch and i just have my mums gold spray paint. Sigh.

Still, being half way through gold spray I decided that I liked the cupboard fully sprayed rather than halfsprayed. And no way was I going to paint anymore coats on that cupboard just to cover the gold.

After all that I have now decided that since I can’t face any more painting or spraying or general faffing about the cupboard is perfect. Lacey gold and all.

With a lot of help from Chris it is on the wall and it’s staying there.

Street found cupboard

Even better. Two months enforced minimal bathroom has meant that I’ve managed to declutter a few more bits and bobs. The less I have the less I use and the less I feel I need to buy. Better still the less I have, the less i have to clean. Whoop whoop.

Slimmed down toiletries

Slimmed down toiletries

All in all I’m liking the street found cupboard even if Chris does occassionally ask when I’m planning to paint over the gold. Err, that will be never! I am categorically never painting anything ever again.


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New Years Resolutions – Make Something Monday

I’m not usually one for making resolutions. I fail too easily and am old enough to know now that I’d just be setting myself up for disappointment. However, this year I decided to go the whole hog and make not one but 3 new years resolution. So far 2 are going strong while the 3rd has sadly fallen by the wayside. I resolved to…

  • Join the Brockley Sinfonia. They are aparently looking for string players and I really want to get back into playing but so far I’ve just chickened out. Hopefully there is still time. I’m telling myself this hasn’t failed until December comes around and I’m still not a member.
  • Take work less seriously.  Enjoy life and enjoy my job.  I started a new Job in January and so far they’ve made it easy for me to keep my resolution.  It’s a great department and a great place to work I just need to remember that even when the work starts to get more stressful
  • Lastly and most importantly I have decided that every Monday is “Make Something Monday”  (There was also talk of a “Fix it Friday” but that’s been pushed aside by the resolution above to become a more satisfying “Drink Something Friday”  Whoop Whoop)


The rules of Make something Monday – Or Make it Monday for short – are simple.  Either Chris or I will pick a project and make something.  We don’t have to finish it – in fact so far all the projects have been finished on another day – we just have to make time to get creative.  While one of us makes something/anything,  The other will cook and wash up (usually whoever doesn’t cook will wash up – but by breaking this rule it gives more time to our crafty partner)

So far Chris has made a coffee table from a Pallet.  I’ve made a blackboard and a scarf.  The table needs a bit more work but it’s usable.  The scarf has a few ends still to tie in but the blackboard is on the wall and looking great!  We even had a friend over to join in with Make it Monday and hopefully there will be several more Monday parties to come.  Each week I will try to upload a photo of my make just to keep me inspired.

Next Monday I have a giant Tshirt at the ready to turn into one of these dresses as designed by Mari Santos