Old Newspapers

I was supposed to be writing Christmas cards last night, but the British Library launched a a huge collection of online Newspapers and frankly it seemed more fun trawling through them!  You can search for free or pay £6.95 to actually access and read the papers for two days.  I’ve done that, because  if I did a whole month Christmas would be cancelled in our house and I’d just be on my laptop.

I was mostly searching for family tree information, but the search is a bit clunky you can’t just search for a name you have to put AND in all the time and then it’ll bring up 30 pages with the two words you’ve searched for.  So it took be a while but I came up with an absolute gem, the previously unknown to us story of how Paul’s x3 great grandfather died!

It’s a really beautiful little window into the past and how they lived. The story is titled ‘A Melancholy and Fatal Accident’ – which is such a great description! In 1868 George was 39, and married with five children. He’d gone to Bury St Edmunds on the train from Newmarket to do a cattle sale, he’d come back to Newmarket. Gone out with a few friends for a drink in the pub in Newmarket (we’ve drunk in there!) and then onto another village to look at some lambs for sale.

About 9pm he left to make the six mile journey home in his horse and gig – which as we have both said was a bit mad as it’s dark in the lanes there now, let alone pre-street lights – sadly at some point he either fell asleep or lost control of the gig and was thrown onto the road where he died. He wasn’t found until the next morning and there was an inquest done in the morning at the local pub and then he was buried later that day.

It was so bizarre reading it, I knew he’d died young and his wife lived into her 90’s but we didn’t know anything of the circumstances of his death. It was at the same time totally fascinating to hear so much detail about his day and really, really sad, that Paul’s great grandmother was widowed so young.

I’m off now to search out some more relatives, really hoping I don’t find any murderers!  If you’re into family history check out the archive, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

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Christmas Fair

I’ve just spent the morning with my friends Kat from 3 Bedroom Bungalow and Karen from Rubbish Diet at one of the local Christmas fairs.

We had the best time rummaging through stalls and singing ‘Last Christmas’ at the ‘pick and mix’  I’m feeling very festive now!  The stalls were amazing and I’ve bought some fantastic smelling pot pourri, I’ve got stuff in to make my own but I couldn’t resist – seriously look at that below! Kat bought some too which made me feel better 🙂

I loved these little Rudolph cupcakes, what a fantastic idea. They also had sparkly noses.

This sign made me laugh, I need one that says ‘Dog hair is a condiment’ 🙂

Oh and saw this soap which I didn’t buy but I had to take a photo of, it’s not every day you see Violet soap.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend! x

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Christmas Present Pretties

I’m very much enjoying sitting down with a coffee and going through all the Christmas magazines looking at the decorations and wrapping ideas.  A couple of companies have really jumped out for me this year, one being Cox and Cox and the other Belle and Boo  I’ve never bought from Cox and Cox but they have the post adorable bits and pieces, so that might just change this year.  I especially love the ‘Noel’ wrapping tape which is £7.50 a roll which as you can see works brilliantly on really plain paper.  And being the font obsessive that I am the seasonal tags in plain red and white I think are lovely (£6.50 for 24 tags).

Carrying on with my tape fixation is Belle and Boo I love this kids tape and for 66 metres for £4.80 I’d say that was one hell of a bargain!

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{Easy to Make} Simple Flower Buckets

I love making these little flower buckets. They are a nice little thing to make for either a ‘thankyou’ present, to leave scattered about the house or for on a Christmas table.  They only take about 10 minutes to make and really simple but look good.


I’ve bought some inexpensive buckets to make them with this year (£2.80 in Hobbycraft) but you could easily do them in terracotta pots or in a mug – anything you can use as a container really.

You don’t need that many flowers just some with stout steams, I’ve used 7 red roses in this one.  Check out your local market, which will often stock interesting colours and if their anything like mine really cheap – a bunch of roses at mine is £1.50. If you don’t have a market a bunch from your local supermarket will do.

Check out your garden, if you’re lucky enough to have some Holly and other greenery out there use that to fill in any gaps or maybe cinnamon sticks to make it smell extra festive.

What you need:

A Container

Flower Foam (Wilkinsons, Hobby Craft and Supermarkets now stock it)




Extras like ribbon, cinnamon sticks or maybe diamonte’s or pine cones on sticks?

How to make

1. Soak the Floral foam for a few minutes in some water and then pop in the container.

2. Trim the steams of the flowers to a bit shorter than the container, for the mini buckets I did them to 5 inches.

3. Fill the container with flowers, do it so you’re happy with it. Easiest way is to get the heads so they are level with the top of the container.

4. Either leave it as is, or add some cinnamon sticks, diamonte’s or pine cones on sticks in with the flowers, ribbon around the bucket.

5. Pop in a small box with some tissue paper give as a gift.

Check out more simple Thrifty Christmas ideas from other crafty bloggers here







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Remembrance Day

Photo Credit: Flanders Battlefiield - National Library of Scotland's photostream on Flickr

As always I’m remembering my Grandmother’s Uncles who died in WWI and all that have come after them

Private John Criddle

died 30th September 1915

aged 35

Battle of Loos


Alfred Alexander Criddle

died 22nd September 1918

aged 35



and this year I’m proud to add a lost Uncle:

Private George Easter

died 30 April 1918

aged 26


You were not forgotten

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{Review} Minted Christmas Cards

Sorry this is becoming bit of a reviews blog at the moment, but frankly not a lot else is going on unless you count endlessly hoovering up Betty hair – seriously how that dog isn’t bald I don’t know!. I’m also finishing off a few blog designs and working on Thrifty Christmas – who knew doing a post a day was such hard work? Thanks for all those generous bloggers who have come to my rescue!  I’m off to the new Hobby Craft in Cambridge on Saturday so hoping to find some inspiration there, I saw some little silver buckets on their website that I have an idea for…anyway back to my fabulous Christmas Cards!

For years my American friends (Patricia and Jen!)  have always send us the most amazing personalised cards. I’ve seen similar cards in Martha Stewart and other American magazine and I might have just a little bit lusted after having some of my own.  So imagine how much I squealed like a small child when Minted asked me if I wanted to try their cards this year.

I know it’s a bit sad, but I have a life long obsession with stationery and I’ve still not gotten anything that’s letterpressed so personalised Christmas cards are frankly the next best thing in my eyes.

So off I went to the Minted site with my $100 dollar voucher and trawled through both the Holiday Cards and the Christmas Cards (there is a difference!) I was there a while, like hours actually…seriously I was like a kid in a toyshop!  There are so many types of card you can choose from there are classics, moderns, vintage you name it. You can pop in a photo of the kids or family and see what each one looks like, I pretty much drove everyone in the house mad asking which ones we should have.

I finally chose a picture of Miss L wearing a red top, in a folded card. American’s it seems go for flat cards a lot – makes sense I guess if you are doing a lot of long distance posting, so had I gone for flat I could have gotten a lot more for my money.

I’ve ordered folded 25 cards, I’ve added nine photos on the inside and a plain ‘Happy Christmas’ message.  I could have added a ’round robin’ explanation about our year but nothing that interesting has happened, so I didn’t bother. But it’d be fantastic if you’ve had an eventful year or have a new baby or wedding to announce. I’ve also added a skinny sticker for the outside of the envelopes as these will be going to friends and family who live overseas – a lot of them will be going back to the US as well as Canada and New Zealand.

The whole order came to $93 (£58) so it is bit of a luxury item but not terrible as it works out at £2.28 a card.  I really wish I’d had them the year Miss L was born or two years ago when all my Aunts, Uncles, Paul’s Grandmother and my Nan were still alive, they would have really loved them.

Time wise I ordered them November 3rd from the US, I approved the proofs on the 4th and they estimated for delivery 11-14th November but were delivered TODAY the 10th November! And it looks like they were packed by a nice person called Pat – thanks Pat!


I am honestly and truly thrilled with them, they look fantastic and are of a nice thick paper quality, in fact I don’t really want to sent them now I want to hoard them forever, but as it says 2011 on it I might look a bit stupid 😉

If you are interested in getting your own Minted Cards you can get 15% off using this code READERS16 and that ends 28/11/11



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{Review} Clarks Kids Autumn Shoes

It only feels like five minutes ago that Clarks sent us off to get some school shoes for Miss L! Recently they asked us if we wanted to try their Kids Autumn range, now my daughter is a shoeaholic so the answer was a huge ‘yes!’ from her.  Seriously I have never met a child so into shoes, I don’t know where she gets it I literally have two pairs of Converse  – god help me when she’s a teenager!.

We had a £40 voucher to spend, so popped along to our local shop where a lovely lady called Denise measured and fitted Miss L’s feet (they hadn’t grown – phew!) and Miss L decided that she needed a new pair of boots. Pretty good call as her’s were too about a size small and the heels had worn through and we’d been arguing about getting rid of them for a while!

There was a large selection but as my girl has wide feet, we know that what we see on the shelves isn’t always what we can have.

And that was proved on the first pair she tried (above) although they were really lovely (I wanted a pair!) and fit her feet fine they were way too tight around her calves, she wouldn’t have even got tights past them – poor girl has inherited my legs.

Thankfully we were luckier with the second pair and they fit perfectly – they are unzipped in the photo below but they were looser than the other pair. She really liked that they looked like riding boots and she loves them to bits.

The boots were £48 so I only paid £8 towards them which was fine but does in my opinion put them into the pricey category of kids boots which would be a birthday treat or maybe a practical Christmas present?  I’m hoping they will last her now until well after the winter, but you can never tell with growing feet!


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{DIY Makeover} Blue Chair

I’ve started making our old painted chairs over again.  In 2008 I painted them white and added some white and rosy Cath Kidston fabric to the seat to perk them up a bit as they were dark wood with tapestry seatpads.  I liked the ladder backs on them and hey they were free so why not!

Unsurprisingly three and a bit years of wear and tear have now made them a bit grubby and the paint has worn off in patches. So time to go again!  This time I’ve gone blue as I think it should last a bit longer than the cream.  I’ve used some Cath Kidston fabric from eBay and a tester pot of Farrow and Ball and some wadding from the market.  So I think so far it’s cost me just under £10 for both chairs, plus a bit of elbow grease.

I’m just waiting for the seat pad foam to come from eBay now, and then when I get time I can re-staple the new fabric to the pad and my chair will be done and I’ll post a photo. Hopefully before Christmas!


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Going Grey Gracefully?

Apparently I’m nearly 40.  In 4 months I hit the big old milestone my mother’s generation dreaded and to be honest it doesn’t feel like the big deal I always thought it would.  I feel about 28, but other parts of my body are starting to tell another story!

I’ve noticed in the last few months especially that my hair especially in the front is starting to go grey, in kind of a glamourous Caitlin Moran way it’s bit of a streak. It’s not a horrid grey, more a sexy silver fox which in some light looks blond, but in my very dark hair is getting quite noticeable.   So the question is should I start dying my hair every 10 weeks or just go grey gracefully?

Spot the Grey!


My Nan bless her had the dark hair when she was young and had it coloured the moment she started going grey and carried on until she died when she was 97. She’d drag me to hairdressers in her 70’s and 80’s to show them the colour her hair ‘should be’ and demand they colour it the same, she resolutely refused to ever be ‘old and grey’. My Dad on the other hand has embraced the grey and accepted it as who he is, my Mum was blonde to start with, went grey and now back at blonde – obviously her’s is all natural 😉

I don’t know if I want to or not?  On the one hand I see photos like this on Pinterest from an inspiring blog called Going Gray Looking Great

And think ‘YES!, grey hair can be glamourous and gorgeous’ and then I think, ‘well she’s a model and probably 60 odd and has always looked wonderful’.  I might just look a bit crap on the school run with a head full of salt and pepper looking prematurely old.  Obviously I’ve discussed this with my husband who bless him feigned interest for a good 10 minutes and then told me to ‘do what I’m comfortable with’ – so he doesn’t mind one way or another LOL!

I don’t know is grey a state of mind? Am I going to look in the mirror and think ‘where the hell have I gone?’  Was my Nan right, if you let yourself go grey did you suddenly start acting like an old lady?  Or is dying your hair a desperate grab a youth gone by?

As you can tell, I’m conflicted! Do you have grey hair? If so what have you done?  Done grey gracefully or denied the grey and dyed it?  I’d love to know!



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I am a lucky girl, the PR company who work with ‘Wicked’ in the West End asked me if we’d like to go and see the show – ummm YEAH!!  I’ve wanted to see Wicked since my friend Patricia saw it years ago on Broadway and told me how good it was.  She’d also sent me the book which I read when L was a baby, but having a small child, and the expensive of the tickets and the train journey into London meant that I’d never gotten round to it.

For those of you who have missed ‘Wicked’ it’s basically a prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ it’s about the Wicked Witch of the West and how she became Wicked.

(From Wikipedia)

“The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of OzElphaba, the misunderstood girl with emerald-green skin, and Galinda, later Glinda, the beautiful, ambitious and popular blonde. Wicked tells the story in which these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and theGood Witch of the North while struggling through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard‘s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. The plot begins before and continues after Dorothy‘s arrival from Kansas and includes references to locations, events, characters and situations from both the 1939 film and Baum’s novel.”

So as we’re still on half term, Paul, Miss L and I went down to see the show yesterday in London. This was Miss L’s first trip to the theatre (I’m seriously not counting ‘Tweenies Live’!) and she was super excited.  We had lunch at Victoria Station and then off to the theatre opposite.  The thing I loved about the actual theatre itself was because it’s art deco it fits so well with the 1930’s feel of the story and the stage was tied into it too.  Even the female ushers has 30’s uniforms and makeup – not sure if that was deliberate or just the style they have? They all looked authentic and fantastic though.

As you can see from the moment Miss L sat down she was enthralled with the complex set, her favourite thing was the map of Oz, you can’t really see it in the photo below but the detail was amazing.

My favourite was the dragon who’s above the stage and comes to life at the beginning of the show.

The show was really good, the two leads Rachel Tucker as Elphie and I think it was Chloe Taylor as Glinda yesterday were just stunning. How do such large, beautiful voices come out of two such tiny women??    Their performances really made it for me, and even I was quite teary at the end.    But the rest of the cast, especially the chorus who worked their butts off the whole show were brilliant too.

The funniest thing was Paul commenting that the only fault he could find was the music sounding too ‘perfect’ and that it would be better with an orchestra….when he spotted the orchestra pit and the conductor about 30 seconds later!  We did giggle 🙂

So thank you for the tickets, we had the best time and most importantly Miss L had a very spectacular introduction to the magic of the West End, hopefully it will give her a lifetime love of it.


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