Thursday, 31 March 2011

Moo cards

I've been doing a lot of crafting over the past six months and a lot of what I've been making are intended as gifts. Now, I'm not entirely convinced that the recipients of said gifts are thrilled at my handmade efforts, but I've really enjoyed spending time on making gifts rather than just splashing the cash. Obviously part of the point of a handsewn, handmade or homebaked present is that it isn't perfect, but I did want something to add a touch of professionalism to my offerings. So when I saw Moo cards on one of my favourite blogs, MathideheartManech, I though they'd be just the thing.

They arrived yesterday and they are soooooo cute. 100 tiny cards in their own little box, there are 10 different designs (I chose 'off the shelf' designs but you can also upload your own images) on one side and the other is emblazoned with the legend: Handmade with love... by Janet. I have already slipped one into the parcel with a christening present (the personalised bunting I made a couple of weekends ago) and into my mum's mothers day cookies. Now I need to get making and baking again so I can use more cards!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The joy of text

I love reading: I have 1000s of books, I chose a job that often involves nothing more than reading to 30 teenagers, and I really don't feel comfortable being in a room that doesn't have books in it.

But I don't limit my reading to books. I have a bit of an obsession with text on homeware, such as my favourite mugs:

or the cushion I have in my front room which delights me in a childish way:
So when I got home today to find a parcel containing my new bathmat, I was excited. I spotted this on the H&M website a while ago but couldn't justify the shipping costs for a measly £6.99 bathmat. So when finding a dress I wanted coincided with a 20% off code, I went for it. Well, as it turns out the bathmat isn't perfect. Even though my bathroom isn't huge, it still seems a little on the small side. It's also quite a thin towelling material which is unlikely to feel warm and cosy against my feet on a cold morning. But I am prepared to forgive much for such an abundance of lovely, vintage-y feeling text.

Monday, 28 March 2011


Not long ago I read a (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) socialist critique of cupcakes that suggested they represent the ultimate triumph of the individual over the collective, a sort of cake version of Thatcher's "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women...". It went on to say that the departure from traditional British confections, such as the more restrained scone, and the growing popularity of cupcakes, with their extravagant decoration and gaudy colours, somehow represented the growth of a US-influenced consumerist society.

Now I like I good socialist critique as much as the next person, but as far as I am concerned any foodstuff in which the cake to icing ratio is often approaching 50/50 is ok with me and consumerism be damned.

Lemon Cupcakes

4oz caster sugar
- 4oz self-raising flour
- 4oz butter
- Grated rind of one lemon plus a squeeze of juice
- 2 medium free-range eggs

Beat all the ingredients together, put into cupcake cases and bake at gas mark 4, 170degrees C for 12-16 minutes, until very pale brown and firm to the touch. Mix the rest of the lemon juice with a tablespoon of softened butter and 6oz icing sugar. Beat to form a smooth icing. When the cakes are cool, ice them and try not to eat them all in one go.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

This weekend I have mostly been...

  • Reading the new - utterly ludicrous but totally unputdownable - Sophie Hannah book.

  • Baking lemon cupcakes (and trying not to eat them all at once).

  • Listening to Rage Against The Machine and System of a Down because I felt annoyed.

  • Framing pictures (more details to follow).

  • Making rhubarb crumble.

  • Picking daffodils in the garden.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Festival fever

I love festivals. I come alive in the summer and feel most like myself when wearing wellies and supping cider in a damp field. And this time of year is usually an exciting one for the festival fan, as line-ups are announced and tickets go on sale.

But this year I am spending my summer travelling across the USA and have had to give up my usual round of festivals (Latitude and Summer Sundae, with Leeds thrown in for good measure some years), which makes the announcements a painful process as I keep my fingers crossed that no-one I really love is playing.

So far, I'm only really upset about Suede headlining Latitude. As a good 90s indie chick I was passionate about Suede at one time. I don't listen to them all that much nowdays (although Heroine coming up on shuffle on my iPod the other day got me bouncing around the house and singing along) but the combination of them and Latitude's fantastic main stage will be amazing.

My usual festival buddies are also on their travels this summer: Ruth to China, Abby to South America and Richard to the States with me. I know we don't deserve any sympathy, but I am going to miss my usual summer pastime immensely.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Pottering around

I spent most of my afternoon looking frustratedly out of the window at the sunshine. Do you remember the feeling of being at school and stuck in a stuffy classroom, desperately wanting to be outside in the fresh air? Well, teachers feel it too.

By the time I got home the sun had pretty much gone (typical) but I still spent an hour pottering in the garden. I weeded the raised bed, gazed at the daffodils and pansies for a while and planted some herb seeds to sit on the kitchen windowsill.

The pottering continued when I came inside and took me to the spare room, where I admired my new favourite thing: this cushion.

Now, I love maps and my favourite place in the world is where my parents grew up - South Africa - so when I saw this at the My Bearded Pigeon shop on Etsy, it was worth even the shipping from Australia. It arrived a couple of months ago, but because it lives in my spare room I sometimes forget it's there and get very excited when (like today) I see it again.

My Bearded Pigeon have a host of other beautiful creations on Etsy that are well worth a look. (

Sunday, 20 March 2011


I didn't manage to do any making and doing yesterday (it was too nice to stay inside), but have just about made up for it today with not one but two sets of bunting.

The first set will be a Christening gift for a friend's daughter. I found this lovely duck egg blue polka dot fabric a few months ago and have been wondering what to do with it ever since. As Kirsty is not a fan of the tyranny of pink for baby girls, I thought this would work well for Violet's personalised bunting. With the addition of iron-on letters in Cath Kidston fabrics (thanks eBay!) and some red ribbon, it's made some lovely, not too girly bunting. I'm now wondering whether or not to add some flower buttons...

The second set is for me. Ages ago I fell in love with the Jane Austen book bunting from, but wanted to make something a bit more personal, using my favourite bits of Pride & Prejudice. I found a copy in a charity shop with thick, good quality pages and, together with the sweet ribbon from East of India, I think it makes a great addition to my bedroom shelves. Cutting up a book felt very wrong though: my ex-librarian mum will probably have something to say about it too.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

From fanzines to the blogosphere...

When I was 16 I started a fanzine (that should give you some idea of how long it's been since I was 16!). It was called 'Venus', and reflected my major preoccupations at the time: music, charity shop clothes (this was pre-'vintage'), music, bad poetry, music, books, music, A-Levels and music. The tagline for Venus was 'Please understand. We don't want no trouble. We just want the right to be different. That's all'. A plea (taken from a Pulp song) that I now find heartbreaking in what it reveals about life as an indie kid growing up in Bradford.

Anyway, I left Bradford for university and Venus (which by then had become 'V', after I belatedly realised that phoning up record companies to blag gig tickets with the words, "Hi it's Janet from Venus" could easily be misconstrued!) sort of petered out. Technology moved on and fanzines became, if not totally obsolete, then certainly a dying breed. Blogs took over. I wasn't interested.

But... I've been reading so many great blogs lately, ones that inspire me in all sorts of ways: the music I listen to, the crafts I make, the outfits I wear, the books I read. So I thought maybe it was time to start writing again.

It turns out that 15 years later, my interests are still music, books, charity shops (now vintage) and A-Levels (I'm a teacher). And with the addition of a newly-rediscovered love of crafting, that's pretty much what this blog will be about. I'm looking forward to exploring the world of blogging. If it's as much of a blast as the fanzine world, I'm in for a good ride.