A Cautionary DIY Tale

I feel like a right idiot – no change there for those of you who know me, but last night was exceptional even for my clumsiness!

I decided that I’d wax Miss L’s desk and I knew I had some clear beeswax wax in the cupboard from ages ago so I’d just use that.  I’d bought it ages ago – maybe 4 years ago and never used it. So grabbed a brush and started painting it on the desk, and it was all looking good. Then I knew I needed to wipe it off, so grabbed an old cloth and started wiping, took me like 10 minutes.

Washed my hands and then the tingling in my hands started……and then my heart started beating faster and then my breathing went funny and I started shaking. So I grabbed the tin, looked at the back and it said – always use with gloves, don’t come into contact with skin. It wasn’t beeswax….CRAP!

Decided to phone NHS Direct – had no idea what the number was, so had to try and google whilst shaking – that’s not easy!

Got through – after 5 minutes of ‘we’re busy, please wait’, talked to the woman at the end of the phone who them put me straight through to the ambulance service and I spoke to a lovely controller who calmed me down and told me a paramedic was on the way.

Miss L was being so brave, and texting Paul to let him know what was happening as he was on the train on the way home, and then she went and unlocked the door to let the paramedic in and keep watch that they were coming.

20 minutes came and went and I wasn’t getting any better, and Miss L was getting quite distressed. She’s seen on TV that ambulances turn up in 2 minutes, so I called a friend and she and her daughter came down to look after Miss L and me, I can’t thank them enough for that. It’s scary being on your own when something bad happens.

Luckily the wonderful paramedic turned up about 2 minutes later and stayed for nearly two and a half hours in the end to make sure that I was ok. He realised after I made him touch the wax that I wasn’t having a panic attack, and it was something to do with the wax, it gave him a tingle too. So he thinks it was an asthma/allergy attack (I’ve only had asthma 6 months so I didn’t know what it was – I normally have a cough) bought about by all the VOC’s in the wax.

Thankfully after a piraton, asthma spray and lots of care, I finally could breathe and stopped shaking about 3 hours later.  I can’t thank my friend Nicola and her daughter enough, Dan the paramedic and poor old Paul and Miss L for looking after me.  This morning I’m tired feel a bit sick still but my breathing’s ok and I’m not shaking – so all good in my book.

But you know from now on I’ll be reading the instructions of any products I use!





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Writing Desk Makeover

I’ve been a terrible blogger of late, Instagram has taken over as my easy/time poor version of blogging lately. If you’re on there, come and say hi as usual I’m at @violetposy

Anyway onto what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks? I decided that Miss L should now have a proper desk but they are SO expensive! So I went to a few local second hand shops, but no luck until I headed to our local Emmaus. Oh my word! It’s like an aladdin’s cave of wonderful old furniture and they are a brilliant charity so a win/win for me.

I spotted this little beauty, a bit rough around the edges and the veneer was peeling quite a lot but it was solid and only £50. I also thought it’d be ideal thing for me to try some Annie Sloan paint out of as I’ve been hearing it raved about.

I bought it home and asked Miss L what colour she’d like it painted and as you may have guessed – yeah she wanted purple, with pink on the inside – ‘Perfect, no ageing it Mummy!’.

I loved using the Annie Sloan paint, it was amazing, a little goes a really long way. The wood didn’t need any priming, sanding or any other prep, all I did was give it bit of a dust.  I was really pleased with it and will happily use it again, I’m thinking that the dining room bookcases can use some old white treatment 🙂

But back to the desk, the inside’s not finished yet.  I’m just waiting for some oilcloth from ebay to come and then I’ll redo the writing area inside and then wax it.  But I think it’s going to make a lovely place for Miss L to do her homework, art and dream….


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{The Gallery} The 80’s

Just spotted Tara’s ‘The Gallery‘ this week and it’s photos from the 80’s. Luckily or unluckily (depends on who you are) I recently bought a slide scanner and lots of embarrassing photos are seeing the light of day 🙂

So here’s a picture of me and my Mum, probably taken about 1982? So I would have been about 10 and my Mum was 31 – I wish I’d had her figure when I was 31!

Love you Mum! xx



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{Review} Wonderbook: Book of Spells

We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the PS3 game ‘Wonderbook – Book of Spells’ by JK Rowling.  It’s based on one of the Hogwarts textbooks written by Miranda Goshawk and in the restricted section of the Hogwarts Library – yeah you can imagine how much Miss L loves this!  Here’s the official blurb about the game and what the children can do with it:

“This advanced textbook will assist students on their journey to becoming an accomplished witch or wizard. Read, discover, learn and practice spells such as Incendio, Wingardium Leviosa and Expelliarmus, as well as discover mischievous notes, spells and humorous anecdotal facts scribbled into the margins by previous Hogwarts students. J.K. Rowling has written a conundrum that leads you through the experience, providing insight into the values a witch or wizard has to learn, and inviting you to journey through the book to unlock new content, rewarding successful students along the way.”

How much fun does that sound? Well we didn’t have a PS3 so Sony kindly gave us one and the game to try out – which made Miss L’s day, she’s thrilled with it.  The whole thing was pretty easy to set up, and you don’t need masses of space for the interactive gaming, which is handy!.

The game itself is pretty impressive, you’ll need the Playstation move and eye add ons to play it – doesn’t work without them. The controller is turned into a wand on the screen and there is a book that comes with it.  The book on the face of it without the game just looks bizzare it’s full of blocks and nothing in it to read, but then put it with the game.  It is amazing, like something you would have played on at Disney 10 years ago, but it’s now in your lounge.  The book becomes a 3D augmented reality book which takes the children through the game teaching them spellings and earning them house points like they were at Hogwarts.

You can also link the game up to Pottermore, and your child’s account there so it’s all interactive with that world too.  There’s also quite a lot of reading involved – I like that kind of sneakiness in a game and it very much brings the Harry Potter world to life.   The only downside to it is that only one person can play it at a time, so if you have more than one child it’s going to have to be a team effort playing it and they will have to take turns.

Here’s Miss L’s verdict on the game:

‘This is a fun game for all the family, it’s an enjoyable game with amazing graphics.  You can create spells from a bubble head charm to a mythical animal.  My favourite part is the bubble head charm and I like spraying Mummy with water when I cast the Aguamenti spell (ed- that’s the water casting spell – she get’s to virtually spray me with water).’

And then she ran off to play it! But she’s invited most of her friends to come over and try it out, so she must be impressed.  I really hope there will be more downloadable content for it further down the line as it’s been such a hit with Miss L, it’ll be nice to carry on the adventure.

It’s available on Amazon from the 16th November – the basic game is £22.99 and the Starter Kit with the Move and Camera and Game is £59.99. And obviously in all other good shops that carry computer games 🙂



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Budgeting for Christmas

I am rubbish at budgeting, and given half a chance I’m a complete spendthrift that goes mad at Christmas…only I can’t anymore. We work for ourselves, contracts come and go and I can’t go blowing a load of money on Christmas that we don’t have.

So here’s how this year I’m doing my Christmas shopping:

1.  The Plan!

Make a list, re-check the list that everyone you need is on it and kick off anyone you can get by sending a card to.  A little harsh, I know but really think about who you are sending presents to.

Shop as soon as you can, don’t leave it to the last minute when the pressure is on and you feel like you ‘HAVE’ to buy something for someone because you can’t think of anything else – that’s when you end up spending too much.

2. Set a Budget

Now I don’t go for this whole £5 or £10 per head for everyone lark – some people I like more than others!  Some people I can get away with making a present for or getting something from a charity shop and popping it in a pretty box.  On your list put what you are buying each person and if it’s a homemade one put that by their names and then take them out of the budget. It’ll give you more money to work with, and thenwork out what you have left. Make the budget realistic, there is no point in telling yourself you’re spending £50 when it’s really going to be £500 and then being horrified when you’ve overspent.

3. Spending the money.

Ideally either do online Christmas Shopping or go shopping with Cash – it is much, much easier to keep track if you can see it on a screen in front of you or if you have no money left in your purse – it also makes you more ruthless.

My favourite trick is to  put everything you want to get into your online shopping basket, then leave it a day or two and then go back with a clear head. You might see stuff in there that you didn’t really mean to order, you just went a bit mad and then you can delete it out saving some money.

4. Shopping for Abroad?

Are you sending gifts to far flung places? Last year I was sending gifts the the USA and New Zealand, and I found that sending the gifts actually cost more than they had cost!

Thankfully you can send gifts in the USA via Amazon US using a British Credit Card & Billing Address – not all American retailers are so thoughtful though so check before you order. But Pottery Barn and Etsy are both good sources of presents for the USA & Canada as well.

New Zealand though didn’t have a massive amount of online shops and as I was sending British home comforts to some homesick friends so I had to post, but I learnt some handy hints from my local friendly post office lady!

Keep the parcel weight and size down

I had one large 2.2kg parcel to send. The nice post office lady weighed it for me and told me it’d cost (and this is from memory so forgive me if these number’s aren’t quite right) say £60 to POST it!  But if I took it home, re-wrapped it into two smaller 1.1kg parcels it would only cost me £30 for both. So that’s exactly what I did! A massive thank you to lady in the post office.

5. My favourite places to Christmas shop are:

Amazon – but not in December their delivery always sucks if you shop after early Dec.  But you can get pretty much everything here, cheaper than in stores and I tend to use the ‘forget the basket for a day’ trick here.

eBay – a godsend for people you really want to get a present for but don’t want to spend a fortune on.  iPhone cases for £2, Kindle case for £3, cute jewellery for teens, it’s all there and see if you can get a ‘Buy it Now’ with free delivery – perfect!

Homesense or TK Maxx – well they are pretty much the same shop. But Homesense I find is a bit better and less like jumble sale, so I tend to go there.  They have good books for kids and adults, toys, bubble baths etc and other unusual bits and bobs.  If I’m going there I try and take cash with me, it helps me stay in budget.

Online Photo stores – Calendars and photos gifts are always nice to send to relatives or friends especially if you live far apart.  There are loads of offers on at the moment, so I’ll be doing mine in the next week or so.

Other than that anywhere I have Clubcard points, vouchers, Nectar points or can get a discount.  Look in magazines for vouchers, and your e-mail spam folder I always have loads in there that I don’t otherwise notice.

Homemade and *gasp* charity shops gifts

I like to make homemade gifts, candles, soaps, chocolates are about my limit (I can’t sew or knit!), but if you are more crafty pop over to Thrifty Christmas or my Thrifty Christmas Pinterest Board there are loads of ideas from making presents to wrapping them!.

But I have been known to get presents from charity shops…it probably helps I know a lot of people who are into vintage. But this is a £2 gift I found in a local charity shop a couple of years ago:

It was a glass sugar bowl with a silver lid. Doesn’t look like it came from a charity shop, it looks like it came from an upmarket boutique once packaged up with tissue paper and in a shiny box.

Remember to use some imagination when you’re having a rummage, see some cute little vintage glasses, buy them and then pop them with a small bottle of port or a bottle of wine in a shiny box for a present.  My local Cancer Research shop does the most amazing crochet goods which are perfect for a kids room, Miss L loves all the bits I’ve gotten for her from there.  A thoughtful present doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

Above all 

Remember Christmas is supposed to be fun, most people will never remember what you bought them, they’ll just remember you cared enough to get them a little something. Don’t stress!

What are your favourite tips and tricks?  I’d love to hear them 🙂



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Half Term Fun

Sorry for the lack of posts, half term and then moving servers at the weekend all got in the way of my blogging.  But I *think* the site is working properly again, can you let me know if you find anything that looks a bit wonky?  I’m hoping to get some time this week and make the site more festive and maybe put in a magazine theme?

Anyway back to the weekend! On Friday we were fortunate enough to be invited to a Guinness Book of Records event at the Westfield Stratford Shopping Mall. It’s right next to the Olympic Stadium and park, so we finally saw all that which was fantastic having seen it on TV so much in the summer.

It’s actually pretty easy to get to from ours, straight down to Kings Cross, cross the road into St Pancras and then pop on the 6 minute Javelin train to Stratford. It’s so much easier to get there than somewhere like Bluewater for me, so I think it’ll be my new shopping center of choice when I need to do a big shop.

We had the top floor of a restaurant in the Mall and there was the most amazing face painter, well that’s actually too simplistic a term for what she was doing, I personally think she was an amazing artist. Miss L asked for ‘Space’ on her arm and I wanted something flowery (no surprise there!) but they were just amazing and done in such a short space of time.

Neither Miss L or I ever wanted to wash again and the pictures made it home intact until Betty decided to lick my arm! ick!

The kids and adults could all have a go at breaking a World Record, there was sock matching and balling (thank you to GWR my daughter is now really into sorting socks when I’ve done the washing!), most recognised sounds in a minute and the quickest stacking of 21 paper cups. Now this last one seemed to be the most popular and there was a lot of practising amongst the children and adults.

In the end there were five contenders for the paper stacking cup challenge, all on 18 seconds. After a tense finale I was very proud that Paul won! 21 cups in 16 seconds the new Guinness Book of Records holder!!  I don’t think Miss L has ever been more proud of her daddy, he on the other hand is a bit embarrassed! 🙂

Thank you @craigglenday for the photo

If you are in Westfield Stratford doing your Christmas shopping pop along to their Live Augmented Reality Experience where you can ‘meet’ all sorts of record breakers, it’s lots of fun.

Thank you so much to the Guinness Book of Records Team for such a fantastic day out, we really enjoyed it.


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