Sunday, 23 September 2012

Back to Blogging.


I have returned to blogging! I have had a frantic few months with exams, moving house, and starting my PGCE.  I have JUST got internet so I will hopefully be able to blog more frequently.

The time out has also allowed me to think about what I would like to blog about. Today I have elected to talk about getting organised for a busy day at work or school.

The Sunday before:

  • Make your lunches for the week. Last week I had dan dan noodles and this week I will have pasta with a tomato and basil sauce ( I will do the recipes and cost break down for these shortly).
  • Write up a list of things that are happening in the upcoming week. You are less likely to forget about THAT appointment or needing to pick up a parcel if you have it written down. I have a wipe board for this. 
  • Relax. It is Sunday after all!
The Night before:
  • Choose your outfit. It's better to discover now that your shirt is a crumpled mess when you have time to deal with it rather than when you are in a hurry in the morning. 
  • Pack up your bag with the necessities of the day. Include all of your paperwork so you don't have a mad dash around the house in the morning. 
  • Check over your 'to do' list. Then you'll know if you have something to do tomorrow that is different from your routine. 
The Morning:
  • Shower, pick up your pre-made lunch and pre-packed bag and go and enjoy a day with less stress!

I hope you found that helpful. As always, if you have a particular request get in touch!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Eulogy for my Made Do and Mend Hero.

Recently my Nanny Jean, my father's mother, died of Cancer.

She was an amazing woman and she taught me so many things. She taught me how to sew a button and how to make a hem, she taught me how to bake (although i'm sure she wouldn't mind me saying that sponge cakes weren't her forte!) and how to feed a demanding family. She taught me how to cook from scratch: how to make a roux, how to prepare meat,  and how to measure things in "old money" (to this day I know that a "stick" of butter is an ounce and that her battered and worn tablespoon measures a perfect ounce)- she taught me so well that I struggle to make anything using grams. She taught me how to look after clothes and how they are best stored, and she taught me how to iron and how to put a crease in my trousers (but I didn't have the heart to tell her that I deliberately buy clothes that don't need ironing).

The more I think about it the more I realise that if I were to write down every make do and mend thing that Nanny Jean taught me I would never actually finish this post. Nanny Jean grew up in a deprived area of Birmingham around the time of the Second World War and this clearly influenced her thriftiness which she made every effort to pass on to her children (this bypassed my dad, but my aunty Liz is a demon on the sewing machine, regularly sticking up curtains, pillow cases, and patchwork quilts) and then on to me and my two sisters. I can remember her making up tents from two of the kitchen chairs and an old duvet cover, or me and my sisters sorting through the button box, or making dresses for dolly pegs (I went to hang the washing out the other day and there are still faint faces that we drew many, many years ago): basically, my Nan taught us how to make our own fun.
Dolly pegs, for all the young'uns who read this blog. 

Nanny Jean taught us things to help our wellbeing as well as practical skills. Whenever I would speak to her about university she would always respond "work hard because they can never take your education away from you". It didn't matter whether I was speaking to her about how difficult the course was, or how people at uni could be catty and hurtful, or even if I was phoning up to report a good mark she always said the same thing. And, what's more, it's completely true what she said- no-one can take it away from you: you can get your house and car repossessed or you could fall ill, but through it all you would have an education that would allow you to attempt at starting again.

Nanny Jean was also one of by biggest cheerleaders. She was never afraid to give me guidance or tell me when I was wrong, but she always did it in such a way that I didn't ever feel like I was being put down. When I did well she was the first to shout it from the rooftop: at Nanny's wake there were hoards of people telling me how proud Nanny was that i'd got into Cambridge for my PGCE- I didn't know she told all of these people.

I'm glad my Nan was proud of me because it was her approval that I sought. Incidentally, she was very impressed that I was keeping this blog and thought it funny that you could document make do and mend approaches on the internet, thus making it modern. It really hurts now that she's gone. She was a shoulder to cry on, a teacher, a nurturer, and one of my champions: she was, and still is, not only my make do and mend hero, but a hero in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

**WARNING- POTENTIAL FOR TMI ALERT** Let's talk about...sanitary protection!

I recommend that if you are easily embarrassed or have a weak stomach (or are male!)you read no further.
I was reading recently about the environmental cost of nappies: they cost a lot to produce, transport and of course they take 200 years to rot down [source]. This means that there are nappies in landfills that have graced my infant bottom from 21 years ago...and the likely enough your pooey nappies will be in there too!

Now, I don't have a child so the issue of the environmental problems that nappies create aren't an important factor to me. However, I came to think that shop purchased sanitary towels are made from a very similar material to disposable nappies which means that they are as bad as nappies for our environment. This encouraged me to do some research about the history of the sanitary towel (it's amazing what you'll do when you are trying to avoid an assignment on postmodernism, isn't it?) and I came across this very interesting site.

Women across the millennia have used what nature provided them to absorb menstrual flow from papyrus to moss. As time progressed sanitary wear became more advanced and many women used washable rags to absorb their monthly flow (which is presumably where, admittedly horrible, phrases such as "on the rag" came from). Really, the streamlined sanitary towel that is easily wrapped up and thrown away is a modern invention. This means that we haven't really found the technology to ensure that they are biodegradable under non-optimal conditions found at land fills. Furthermore, this rise of the discreet sanitary towel has created a form of anxiety around menstruation resulting in the created on perfumed sanitary towels- now forgive me, but having perfume near your reproductive organs can be really bad for you. Sanitary towels also cost a lot and in the UK you have to pay tax on them.

So, as you can see, sanitary towels aren't that great. But what's the alternative? There are tampons of course but they are just as bad as sanitary towels in terms of environmental, health, and financial cost. However, there are also reusable items such as mooncups and femmecup (femmecup also has a scheme where you can buy one cup and send another to the third world) which are receptacles used in the same way as tampons and can last for years if properly cared for. But what I think is the most innovative product is the reusable sanitary towel. They work in the same way as the contemporary sanitary towel but after use they re removed, soaked in a tub of cold water, washed and dried with your normal clothes and are ready for the next use. This reduces the environmental cost as they aren't thrown away or constantly being produced and transported. However, what I think is most innovative about this product is that they are home made- of you're savvy with a sewing machine you can make your own, or if not you can turn to pre-made ones- where many are made by stay at home mother's who are carers and are thus unable to work full time hours so use the making and selling of reusable sanitary towels to supplement their income.  This seller is up and coming in the field and makes reusable sanitary protection for fun.

I hope I haven't bored you with rubbish about re-usable sanitary wear but I do feel it is important that other, more sustainable options, are exposed and discussed.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Reducing the store cupboard stash.

Hello! I hope you're having a lovely saturday and that you have embraced the free listing weekend on Ebay to clear out some of the clutter and make some cash! Pretty soon i'll be taking some pictures and writing up my listings.

Today it occurred to me that I have 4 months and 2 weeks left on my tenancy before I move down to Cambridge to study for my teaching qualification. It also occurred to me that I have tonnes of tins of food that need using up. Now, baked beans, tinned tomatos, red kidney beans and tinned vegetables are easy to use up and are the base of pretty much every meal I cook. However, I found that I have about a gazillion (slight exaggeration perhaps) tins of cream of tomato soup which is really unfortunate because I can not stand the blasted stuff. I'm not sure how I have cream of tomato soup because I know I would not have spent my hard earned stirling on it, so I can only assume my future mother in law purchased it.

In a desperate bid to make a dent into the tins of soup I made a tuna pasta bake. Here is an approximate recipe, but please remember I never weigh anything out.

Tuna Pasta Bake
1 large pan of pasta
1tin of cream of tomato soup
1 tin of peeled/peeled chopped tomatoes
2 tins of tuna
chilli powder/flakes (to taste)
garlic (to taste)
2 small onions chopped and lightly fried
Any left over vegetables you can find (I used spinach, peppers and sweetcorn)


  1. Put the pan of pasta on to boil.
  2. Lightly fry the onions, garlic and chilli
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes to the fried onions and mash up if required.
  4. Add the sage
  5. Add the chopped vegetables. 
  6. Add the tomato soup
  7. Add the tuna
  8. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  9. When the pasta is cooked drain it well and put it into a crockery oven dish. 
  10. Pour over the tomato mixture and stir well into the pasta. 
  11. Put some tin foil over the tuna pasta bake and pop in the oven (gas mark 4) for 30 mins. This should give the pasta time to absorb the tomato juice. 
  12. Serve with cheese if required. 

I really like this recipe because it is so simple to make- everything can be chopped and prepared in the 10 minutes it takes to boil the pasta. It can also be left to stand and served later on in the day. My crockery oven dish holds about 6 portions so I put the leftovers in tupperware tubs, freeze, and serve another day as a home made ready meal.

N.B.- I would have posted a picture of this dish but my boyfriend couldn't wait before starting to eat it. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Belly dancing bra: update

I promised you an update of the bra... but then I forgot! Then I spotted my costume hanging up and it sparked a feeling of guilt that I had not updated you.

Full ensemble: skirt, bra, shimmy belt and choli. 

I eventually finished the bra and I even performed in a show whilst wearing it. However, I also forgot to take a decent picture whilst wearing the bra so I have had to do a *rush job*. I also learned that it is really hard to take a picture of a bra when there are no breasts in it. I do have a show coming up soon through so I will take some pictures of the bra in action.

Close up detailing of the bra. 
In the meantime here are some pictures of my costume in it's entirety. All in all, i'm pretty proud of myself (not of the pictures, they're pretty dire) as making a standard bra look half decent took a fair amount of time and effort. I also saved myself a lot of money whilst doing it- as discussed previously belly dancing bras are really expensive and as a poor student I could not possibly afford buying one. Making one has enabled me to have fun with a really great group of young women in my society and do something I enjoy. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Reuse, recycle and repurpose: an old bra.

The finished product
I hope you've all had a lovely Easter/bank holiday weekend and have enjoyed a long weekend. Have you been up to much charity shop or vintage fair hauling recently? I've been looking through my blog subscriptions and many bloggers have had some absolute steals!

Now back on topic! Please excuse the quality of these pictures- they were taken very late at night.

I've always wondered what you're meant to *do* with bras when they don't offer the support you need any more- you can't really give them to a charity shop, can you?
The original old and fading bra.

I decided I would repurpose one of mine- I made it into a scented wardrobe hanger. Now you must remember dear reader that I am a busty wench so my bra did hold a lot of material.


  1. Remove the cup from the bra.
  2. Take out any padding and chop into small bits
  3. If you have any padding add some essential oils- I used lavender because it deters moths so I am told- if not add soak some cotton wool or pillow stuffing.
  4. While you'e waiting for the oil to soak into your stuffing remove any straps from the cup of the bra. You should be left with a bra that is sewed on two sides.
  5. Add the soaked stuffing to the interior of the bra and stick up the remaining side
  6. Attach a pretty ribbon and hang it up in your wardrobe!
I particularly like this item because it repurposes something that would normally be thrown away, it is quite pretty, and it gently scents your clothes and should hopefully stop them getting eaten by moths, thus making them last longer!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A belated birthday treat

Today I had a lovely spa experience at a local place called Eternity Spa in Sale, Cheshire (which isn't too far from me). I had a lovely full body massage, facial and a manicure groupon voucher that my big sister bought me for my birthday- I don't know the exact cost of the voucher because it was a gift but the whole experience was *worth* £130.

A nice relaxing few hours has come at the right time- my car is playing up. Everything that can seem to go wrong has gone wrong and it just doesn't want to be fixed. Thankfully I am a determined person so IT WILL GET DONE. I have a deadline of Monday as I am going for a test drive as I seek out a new, more reliable motor. The latest trial in the car saga... I don't have the right size wrench. SIGH. TERRIFIC!

So, whilst not on the topic of make do and mend- enjoy a spa day, but still be frustrated at a car that won't start. Any tips will be greatly appreciated.

p.s.- I suppose it's make do and mend because I am doing the majority of the mechanic-ary stuff myself...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

How to make clothes last longer.

This is just a quick post because I have a tuna pasta bake in the oven. It will be done soon so I can allow it to cool and then batch freeze it for another day.

Whilst I was waiting for the pasta to cook I did some ironing and I came to think about how vintage clothes seem to last so long. I know the material is better quality and is made to last (no such thing as disposable fashion in the make do and mend era!) but the previous owners must have taken some care over their clothes, especially when you think about how expensive new clothing was before easy mass production.

My nan has given me some top tips over the years about how to look after clothes so they can last and i'm going to share them with you.

  1. Wash clothes when they are dirty- do not put them back in the wardrobe or leave them to fester at the bottom of a laundry basket
  2. Wash clothes only when they need washing- most stains can be removed by gently patting the area with a damp cloth- never rub! 
  3. Leave clothes to air whenever possible- never take something off and put it in the wardrobe
  4. Use bicarbonate soda or fabreeze to freshen up clothes- putting clothes through the washing machine can be really damaging to the fibres.
  5. When you do use the washing machine never fill it right up- it won't get your clothes clean and it will stretch the fibres of the items.
  6. Bras and knickers last longer if washed my hand- just make sure you use a detergent that is suitable for hand washing and won't damage the material, especially if you have posh undies.
  7. After you've washed an item hang it up to dry. I use coat hangers and try to avoid putting clothing directly on to radiators as the heat can stretch elastic fibres. 
  8. Turn clothing inside out when ironing and always follow the instructions on the label. 
  9. Store clothes inside out- this means that any dust that lands on the garment won't impact it
  10. Use suitable coat hangers- you need something that is sturdy and supports the clothes else wise the shoulders won't sit correctly. 
  11. Don't stuff your wardrobe full of clothes- you're less likely to get mould on your clothes if air can circulate properly
  12. Do any repairs as soon as possible after the damage is done- if you delay attaching that button you will probably lose the button which means you'll either have to hunt high and low for a matching button, or discard the item.
  13. Secure buttons with a dab of clear nail varnish. 

So there you have my nan's top tips- have you got any tricks up your (long living) sleeve?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Another way of using up booze *hic*

I've posted about using up booze before but i've discovered a bottle of vodka with some left in the bottle. This is quite shocking as I don't actually like vodka. In the interest of saving space I made a vodka jelly. I hate having bottles lying around- this is made all the more infuriating when I don't even like the drink!

For my recipe I used Hartley's Strawberry Jelly.The reasons for this are two fold: they're on offer at sainsbury's and strawberry is my least favourite flavour so I wouldn't be too upset if it were inedible. However I am sure you could use whatever flavour and another brand if you felt so inclined.

Here's my recipe.

A word to the wise though: Your jelly can be very strong. Please do not drive or do anything dangerous or illegal after consuming this recipe!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A thrifty idea for cosmetics in lipstick packaging.

Again, sorry for the absence- I have a note from my mother explaining why i've been away though. I'm joking: I have no note, I have just been incredibly busy with university work.

Back to make do and mend!

I purchased Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Lip Protectant Stick on a flight to Germany. Thankfully I paid £22 for an entire set found here. Whilst trying to get a link for the lip balm -- let's not gloss (hahah, d'ya geddit? Gloss, lipbalm?!) over it, it is a lipbalm-- I discovered that it comes to a massive £270.00 per 100g. Therefore I was terribly annoyed to discover that half of balm was still in the bottom of the  twisty stick thing * technical term* so I scooped it out and popped it in a carmex tin. I'm sure many people would have thrown away this seemingly empty packaging, but PLEASE check! There was over 1cm worth of product in there!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Make do and mend... the belly dancing way?

As some of you may be aware I belly dance in my free time and I am part of my university society. We do performances and shows which are always really fun but obviously we can't just shimmy away in tracksuit bottoms. However, the cost of some of outfits can be quite prohibitive- thankfully the society have purchased the skirts which means that the members have to do is purchase the top half of the outfit.

The original bra...
Instead of spending an RIDICULOUS amount on a belly dancing top I bought a bra and a load of sequins instead. Sewing the sequins on is time consuming but oddly relaxing.

Watch this space for updates!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

As promised...

something about nails!

I have tonnes of nail varnishes, I just seem to accumulate them. But this is no bad thing in the world of make do and mend in 2000's! I consider nail varnishes to be a cheap and cheerful way of updating an outfit without splurging because you can totally change the mood of an outfit by painting your nails.

A picture of today's (not tidied up nails).

As you can see these are quite bright and cheery and seeing as I used bottles of nail polish that I already had/ have been gifted my lovely friends and family it works out as a very cheap update to an outfit- if I were to feel the need to go out and buy a new outfit the desire is subdued by my pretty nails!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Weird weather

Living in Manchester I know it is imperative to take an umbrella with you everywhere you go.

But the weather today has raised a slightly more bizzarre question- when should I wear sunglasses?

The answer: always.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from damaging rays that can seriously damage your vision so it's really important that you wear them. However, it isn't really important for you to spend a fortune on them so long as they have the kite mark on them and protect from UVA and UVB rays. I bought a new pair for £3.50 from Tescos ( and very swish they are too, if you don't mind my saying!)

However, you can sometimes feel weird strolling around town with your sunnies on when everyone else (and maybe even you) are cuddled up under cardigans and jackets.  My response to this is to wear them anyway- it doesn't matter what other people think and your health is important. If you are really conscious about wearing sunglasses in less than blazing sun why not embrace quirky frames and make a statement?

*I would put a picture of myself in my sunnies but I have come out in a huge itchy and blotchy rash on my face *

Monday, 23 January 2012

My kind of programming!

I'm not too sure if any of my readers already watch this programme but SuperScrimpers on channel 4 is really interesting for those who like a little bit of make do and mend in the 2000s!

And now for a little taster of things to come:

  • Cheap ways to update an outfit 
  • Cheap entertainment 
  • A guide to what every sewing box needs
and hopefully many more things to come!  If anyone has any requests please get in touch.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Home made beauty balm.

Firstly I think an apology is in order. I have pretty much abandoned this blog as I had so much university work to do but now that all of my assignments are handed in and my exams finished I have promised myself that I would get back to blogging.

Back on topic!
The winter has been making my skin really dry, cracked and sore and none of the face creams that I already had in my (significant) stash of toiletries were fixing the problem. I then turned to nature and attempted to make my own beauty balm- a healing and thick creamy wax that when applied to the skin reduces inflammation to make the skin beautifully soft.

Rose water (30ml)
Shea Butter (100g)
Moringa oil (50ml)
Coconut oil (50ml)
Borage oil (5 capsules)
Lavender essential oil (5 drops)
Lemongrass essential oil (5 drops)
Rosemary essential oil (5 drops).


  1. Boil a kettle and fill a large bowl with boiling water. Put a second smaller and heat proof bowl and put it in the larger bowl filled with hot water. 
  2. Add the shea butter and rose water. They will separate because oil and water do not mix
  3. Whisk together until the shea butter has melted
  4. Add the moringa oil and whisk. Moringa oil is an emollient which will combine the oil and water together. 
  5. Carefully remove the bowl with the mixture out of the bog bowl of water
  6. Add coconut oil, essential oils and borage oil capsules and whisk. 
  7. Place in sterilised jars and refrigerate until solid. 
You can use whichever essential oils you like- I chose mine on their skin benefits. I also chose rosewater because it balances skin and has a calming effect. This balm is absolutely amazing as an all round skin product. I use it on my dry skin, cuticles and lips as well as a cleanser: I simply massage the balm into the skin for a few minutes and then wipe it off with a hot microfibre cloth or a flannel. 

If you do make this product, tell me how it goes please?