Frugal Living

Cheap and easy, family friendly recipes that can be made in bulk, repurposing ideas, make not waste projects, cheap and easy ideas for things to make for your home and children.

DIY Haircut


One of the things I begrudge paying money out for is a haircut. Whilst I want my hair to look nice it grows so quickly that it soon looks unruly. I can't really afford to pay out £20 every 5 weeks to get my hair cut so I let it grow long. Unfortunately that always looks a mess too and it ends up in a ponytail or other type of fastening to keep it out of the way.

mom & millie

Then a friend posted this video clip on her facebook wall.

Well, I figured that it had to be worth a go, that it would grow back anyway if it didn't work and ended up being surprisingly pleased with the result.

Posted by OneProudMomma at Saturday, July 31, 2010 6:39 AM

Nettle & Ricotta Cannelloni


Nettle Cannelloni  

Having never eaten nettles before - well lets face it, it doesn't sound appetising - I approached this recipe with trepidation. I used to buy a lovely spinach and ricotta cannelloni down at the supermarket and thought that as nettles were supposed to be a good substitue for spinach I would give it a go, especially with the surplus ricotta I had in the fridge after our cheese making episode.

Bizzarrely it tasted quite nice. The only thing that let it down was pre-bought gluten-free pasta sheets, which I have never used before and am unlikely to ever buy again. I also used equal quantities of ricotta and nettles to make the filling, on hindsight I should have used less nettles as they are much more strongly flavoured than spinach.

There are no weights or measures to this as it was an experiment, now I know it works I may weigh it all out next time I have a go at making it.

To make the cannelloni you will need pre-cooked lasagne/pasta sheets, tomato sauce, nettle & ricotta filling and some grated cheese to spinkle on the top.

Tomato Sauce

Heat together passata, garlic, oregano and basil in a small sauce pan. Warm thoroughly without boiling.

saucepan of tomato sauce Mixed tomato sauce

Nettle & Ricotta Filling

Mix together equal quanities of cooked nettles and ricotta.

Nettles & Ricotta Cannelloni filling

To Construct The Cannelloni

  1. Roll the filling in the pasta sheets and place them side-by-side into an oven proof dish.
    rolling the cannelloniCannelloni in the dish
  2. Pour the tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated cheese.
    Cannelloni ready to bake
  3. Bake in pre-heated oven (160c) for 25 minutes.
    finisshed dish
Posted by OneProudMomma at Saturday, July 31, 2010 6:11 AM

A Glut Of... Lemons - Baked Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake


Lemon & Ginger Cheesecake  

This baked cheesecake recipe has a ginger nut crumb base and a lemon ricotta top. Instructions for making ricotta cheese at home can be found by clicking here.

The Base


  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 120g ginger nut biscuits


  1. Crush the biscuits into crumbs - I put them in a bag and use the rolling pin to do it.
    Biscuit Crumbs
  2. Melt the butter in a pan
    Melting Butter
  3. Stir in the biscuit crumbs
  4. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a well greased 8" pie dish
    Biscuit base ready to chill
  5. Place in the fridge to chill whilst preparing the topping

The Topping


  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • small container (approx 140ml) sour cream
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Juice and finely grated rind of 1 lemon


  1. Place all the ingredients into a food mixer/blender and mix until smooth.
    cheesecake topping mix
    mixed topping
  2. Pour onto chilled biscuit base
    ready to bake
  3. Bake in oven for one and a quarter hours.
  4. Turn off the oven leave the door closed and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cook in the residual heat for another hour and a half.
  5. Once cold chill in the refridgerator.

Posted by OneProudMomma at Saturday, July 31, 2010 5:38 AM
Edited on: Saturday, July 31, 2010 5:41 AM

A Glut Of... Gooseberries - Seedless Gooseberry Jam / Jelly


Gooseberry Bush  

My gooseberry originally started off as a 99p twig from Aldi a few years ago. I now have 2 plants the size of the one above, plus 2 more twigs which have self set themselves this year. I can see in a couple of years time I will be the Queen of Gooseberry Recipes! The gooseberries on the bush above are not ripe yet, they turn from green to a lovely ruby red colour when they are ripe.

I'd picked a colander full of gooseberries one day with the intention of making some muffins or gooseberry fool, but time got the better of me and I needed to do something quickly. As my daughter loves gooseberries but doesn't like seeds in her jam I decided to make a seedless jam, or a jelly as it is called sometimes. As I was in a hurry I didn't get too many photographs taken, unfortunately, but the experiment worked and my daughter rated the result as "the best jam in the world", so I figure it must be worth sharing!

To start with I put the washed gooseberries in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and cooked them for around 10 minutes, stirring occassionally to make sure they didn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Once they were cooked I strained them through a muslin lined colander to make sure I got all the pulp and juice without the seeds and other bits. (A similar method to when making ricotta cheese)

When you have all the pulp, weigh it. Place an equal weight of sugar in the pan with the pulp, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and stir.

gooseberry pulp and sugar

Bring the fruit/sugar mixture to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, carefully skimming away any foam.

foamy jam  

Get your warmed prepared jars at the ready and pour the jelly into them. Place your wax disk on top and seal them after they have had a chance to cool for a few minutes.

finished gooseberry jam / jelly

This makes a runny jam, which we keep in the fridge. If you want to set the jam so it is firm you will need to add pectin, or use jam sugar which already has the pectin in it.

Posted by OneProudMomma at Thursday, July 29, 2010 7:01 AM

The war on weeds


Stop weeds wreaking havoc on your allotment, says Alys Fowler. Some can go on the compost heap, and some make a tasty lunch ...

The war on weeds
Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:38 PM

How to make a zip-up purse


Turn leftover fabric into a neat little purse. It's quick, easy and economical, says Perri Lewis

Sometimes I just want to whip something up in half an hour, rather than slave over a project for weeks on end. So what's the best thing to make? For me, it's those little fabric purses that you'd pay a tenner for if you bought one from Accessorize. It puts small and otherwise useless fabric pieces to good use, and it's a brilliant stand-by gift for a lovely lady of any age.

You've got plenty of variations on the standard instructions all over the interweb: this one on the CRAFT blog has a zip on the side; this one on Skip To My Lou is lined; and U Handbag's tutorial has a rather neat travel card pouch on the side.

However, I reckon this method is the quickest and easiest. Using upholstery fabric means that your purse will be sturdier and more hardwearing than if you used cotton (although, of course, you can use whatever non-stretchy fabric you fancy), and cutting it with pinking shears means you don't have to worry about hemming and neat seams and all that fiddly stuff. And if you've never had the confidence to sew in a zip before, this is a cracking little project to start off with.

What it costs

I forked out £30 for my pinking shears because I wanted to invest in a decent pair, but you can pick them up for £9.99 in Argos. A short plastic zip can be bought for about a pound if you go to a market stall, or around £2.50 from a high-street haberdashery. I used scraps of upholstery fabric, left over from some bunting I made for my mum, using one of my last tutorials. It was originally £7 a metre from John Lewis.

What you need

Upholstery fabric
Pinking shears
Sewing machine, zipper foot and thread/needle and thread
Embellishments: buttons, sequins etc to decorate (optional)

What to do

1. Buy a zip that is as long as you want your purse to be wide, or a little longer (you can shorten a zip easily using this tutorial).

2. Cut your fabric using pinking shears. You need two pieces that are the same size. The width should be 2cm longer than the zip, and the height 2cm longer than you want the final purse to be.

3. On one piece of fabric, fold one long side over 1cm and iron the fold in place.

4. Pin one long side of the zip to the edge you just folded. The fabric should be about 2mm from the zip's teeth.

5. Sew the zip in place (using a zipper foot if you have a machine, or using a strong needle and thread and a backstitch if you don't).

6. Repeat steps three, four and five with the other piece of fabric. When laid flat, your purse will look like a zip with a piece of fabric sewn on either side.

7. Do the zip up. Position the purse so the right sides of the fabric are facing. Pin them together. Make sure the tops of the two pieces of fabric are aligned so the purse is nice and neat when you sew it up.

8. Sew down each side of the fabric, 1cm from the edge. Unzip the zip.

9. Sew the long bottom shut, again, 1cm from the edge.

10. Turn the purse the right way round. Use a chopstick or pencil to poke the corners out (if they don't make a nice right angle, chop the corner off the inside seam).

11. Decorate if you fancy (and have the time).

• Perri blogs about making stuff at © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to make a zip-up purse
Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:37 PM

A Glut Of... Lemons - Lemon Drizzle Cake


This is the recipe that is usually responsible for me ending up with a glut of lemons. I go to the supermarket thinking "I'll pick up a lemon and make a lemon drizzle cake" and end up coming out with a bag full because it works out cheaper to buy them in bulk. That happened again today - I went to check out the "oops" fruit and vegetables and there was a bag of lemons tempting me for the grand price of 39p. Lemon drizzle cake here we come! LOL


Lemon Drizzle cake is incredibly easy to make. I usually triple the ingredients and make three cakes at a time, then I have one to eat now and two to freeze. It works out much more economical that way as the cakes have to bake for 1 hour.



  • 110g soft butter or margarine
  • 170g self raising flour
  • 170g caster sugar (or granulated if you don't have caster)
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • grated rind from a large lemon
  • 2 eggs


  1. preheat oven to 160c
  2. grease or line a 2lb loaf tin
  3. put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth
  4. pour into loaf tin
  5. bake for 1 hour (if cake is looking brown after 40 minutes then cover with tin foil for last 20 minutes)
  6. leave to cool a little and ice whilst still warm



  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • juice of large lemon


  1. sieve icing sugar
  2. stir in lemon juice to create thick syrup
  3. prick top of cake with fork
  4. spoon icing over cake
  5. leave to set
Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:58 PM

A Memory Rag Bag


My children form very strong attachments to their clothing, I'm not sure why - I only remember feeling that strongly about the three bears embroidered on one of my pillowcases when I was little. The pillowcase wore out and I was devastated, so my Mum cut them out and appliqued them to a t-shirt for me, I was over the moon when she did.

My daughter just has a huge growth spurt, going from age 10-11 years clothing to 13-14. She's managed to miss a whole age range in the middle! However, this meant that her favourite clothing would no longer fit her. She was really upset by this as some of the clothing had been given as a gift for her birthday, other jeans she had bought herself with money she had earned. She had memories of playing in park, my 40th birthday party and her Grandma, all in what would appear to anybody else to be a pile of ripped and stained play clothes.

I wanted to do something nice for her, something that would mean that she wouldn't lose those memories. So I came up with an idea - I'd make her a tote bag. Tote bags are fashionable at the moment, and a nice size tote bag would be great for when we go out on day trips, so she can carry her artists pencils and sketch books, plus other things.

To start with I gathered a selection of clothing who's colours and textures complimented each other. Then I washed and ironed it all - 4 pairs of trousers, 1 blouse and a t-shirt.

Pile of clothes  

I then sat and cut out all the useful pieces of fabric. Splitting the trousers up the seams, cutting around the pockets, rescuing the stud fastening on the front of the blouse and the embroidered sequin motifs.

fabric scraps 1  fabric scraps 2 fabric scraps 3 

I knew I wouldn't use all of the fabric up - I kept a large amount of grey denim back to make her some slippers - but I was still quite frugal with what was deemed unusable, mainly just the waistband, hems and fly. I decided that the t-shirt, being very soft, should be used to line the bag.

I looked through the various scraps of fabric and decided that the central feature of the front of the tote bag would be a large button fastening pocket (from the back of her jeans) this would give her a secure place to keep her inhaler, phone and purse. From there I just kept adding panels of fabric.

central panel  

Next I started to muck about with a sort of rough patchworking. I didn't measure anything out, just stitched stips together, cut across them, turned them around, stitched them back together again. I made some interesting panels, which I then attached on either side of the pocket panel.

small patchwork panels  

I decided that was the right size for a tote bag and stopped there. I then made a rough patchwork back panel. Again, no measuring as such, just stitching bits together, cutting, turning and stithcing again.

back panel  

I then stitched the two panels together and started work on the handles. I wanted something soft and strong, so I opted for padded plaits. These took longer to make than the rest of the bag! First I made 6 long tubes, placed three of them together and stitched across the end to hold them together. I then used some reclaimed wadding from an old cushion and stuffed each tube. The stuffed tubes were then plaited, and stitched into place on either side of the bag.

handle 1   handle2  handle 3  

handle 4 handle 5 handle 6

Next, I made the lining. I placed the t-shirt over the bag and cut the lining to the correct size. I stitched the side seam, leaving the bottom and top of the lining open.

t-shirt lining

I reinforced the top of the lining with a strip of denim and then stitched it into place, taking care to stitch the straps in between the lining and outside of the bag.

reinforced lining

I pulled the lining the correct way out and then stitched across the bottom seam of the bag (which was the hem of the t-shirt)

Inside out bag

The final step was to stuff the lining back into the bag, and stitched across the handles on the outside just to reinforce them.

Voila - one frugal, memory, rag bag - and isn't it beautiful!

Rag Bag  

Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 28, 2010 7:49 AM

A Glut Of... Lemons - Lemon Curd


Homemade Lemon Curd  

I much prefer home made lemon curd to the shop bought variety, it tends to be more tart and creamy. The couple of children that like lemon curd at all, prefer the sugary gloopy shop bought variety. I don't mind that, all the more real lemon curd for me! :-)

Lemon Curd is very simple to make using only four ingredients and minimal equipment. It contains butter and egg, so will need to be eaten within a few days of being made. That really isn't a problem for me. It can also be used instead of icing for cakes, in which case use it whilst it is still warm as it spreads easier.


  • 3oz white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2oz unsalted butter
  • 1 large lemon - Finely grated rind and the juice


  1. Whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in the bowl.
  2. Mix in the lemon rind and the sugar.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl.
  4. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  5. Stir frequently until the mixture thickens (around 20 minutes)
  6. Leave to cool slightly, then place in container (leave lid off until it reaches room temperature otherwise condensation will form in jar and make it go nasty).
  7. Once it reaches room temperature put lid on conatiner and transfer to refridgerator.
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, July 27, 2010 8:27 AM

A Glut Of... Milk - Ricotta Cheese


Our glut of milk came from the local supermarket who had overstocked with stuff one weekend. They were selling off 2l cartons of full fat milk for 50p. I know that you can freeze milk so I bought a few cartons not entirely sure at the time what I was going to do with it all other than maybe let the kids drink it all over the summer holiday.

It occurred to me at the time that the milk was only half the price of the stuff I usually buy but oh, wouldn't it be good if we could learn to make cheese. Now that we use in abundance and it is a lot more expensive to buy than milk. I remembered my new book had a section on cheese making and set out to learn what I could, which turned out to be a sketchy over view with not many details. However, it did state that the easiest cheese to make was ricotta, so I looked up ricotta making on the internet. The recipe I found was rather on the bulky side considering that I didn't know whether it was going to work or not, so I scaled it down, amended it to use ingredients you could readily buy and voila - my very own ricotta recipe! The ricotta itself is creamy and not tart, rather like cream cheese (which in fact it is). It spreads well and can be used in baking. Once made it will last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Equipment Needed

  1. Large saucepan
  2. Stirring spoon
  3. Small sieve or slotted spoon
  4. Colander
  5. Large bowl
  6. Clean damp muslin square or cheese cloth (I know mine doesn't look very clean - that's because it's stained from straining gooseberry jelly!)


  • 2l full fat milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 80ml lemon juice


  1. Rinse out the pan with cold water and pour the milk into it.
    Milk In A Pan
  2. Add a pinch of salt, stir briefly and place over a low/medium heat.
  3. Heat the milk slowly, stirring occasionally and removing from the heat just before it reaches boiling point. (There will be steam coming off plus bubbles and a skin on the surface of the milk.)
    Milk with bubbles
  4. Add the lemon juice and stir for gently for one minute. Curds will start to form immediately. Leave covered with a clean tea-towel for two hours.
    Milk Curds
  5. Place the colander over the bowl and line it with the muslin square/cheese cloth.
  6. Using the sieve/slotted spoon ladle out the cheese and place it into the colander. Cover it again and leave it drain for another couple of hours.
    Ladling The Ricotta
  7. Lift up the cloth and squeeze the cheese gently until any liquid coming out is a milky colour.
    Squeezing The Cheese
  8. Place it in an airtight tub and refrigerate.
    Ricotta - ready to chill
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, July 27, 2010 7:35 AM

Summer Holiday Activities


The summer holiday is nearly here and for those of us with school children you may find yourself wondering what to do with them during the holiday that won't cost the earth. If you're lucky enough to live near a beach or a park it is a little easier, as on a dry day you can take a picnic and make a day of it, but if you don't or if it's raining it can be a little harder to come up with things to do. This is especially true if you have a large family or are just generally impoverished!

Help is at hand though, there are a number of free activities that take place around the country during the summer holidays. One of my families favourites is Bookworm Wednesdays held at Showcase Cinemas.

Children over 6 fill in a book review form and that is their entrance ticket to the cinema, one accompanying adult per child gets in free and children under 6 do not have to fill in a book review or pay. For us it means that our entire family of 5 children and 2 adults get into the movies for nothing.

The movies are shown once a week on a Wednesday morning, and although you don't usually get to see a new release (we did once by accident when they forgot to change the movie in the player) the whole experience of going to the movies when you don't usually get to go is an exciting experience for the children.

This years movies are Alvin and The Chipmunks, Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief, Tooth Fairy, Alvin and The Chipmunks The Squeakquel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Ice Age 3.

For more details and to print off the book report form please visit 

Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:19 PM

Free Energy Saving Plug


Yesterday the postman delivered a package for me. I was quite excited because I didn't have a clue what it was. When I opened the package I discovered it was a Lime Energy Saving Plug, then I remembered filling in a form online and requesting my "Free Plug".

It's a neat little gadget, a plug with a infra red sensor. You plug it into the wall socket and then plug your TV into the Energy Saving Plug Socket. When you first turn it on you have to tune it in to your existing remote control (the instructions are in the box). Then in future when you use your remote to turn your TV to standby, it actually gets turned off at the plug socket.

You can get one plug free if you are over 70 or if you are in receipt of certain benefits. 

Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:05 AM

Liquid Hand Soap


I originally saw instructions on how to make your own liquid soap on a You Tube video a month or so ago. I gave it a go and must say that although the quality isn't the same as the sort you would buy in the shops, it works and it costs a lot less.

All you need to make your own soap is a bar of regular soap, boiling water, a measuring jug, spatula for stirring, essential oils (if you want to scent it), a pump dispenser bottle to put it in afterwards and a funnel (to get the soap in the dispenser).

Materials needed for making liquid soap.  

To start with grate your bar of soap into the jug - the finer the better as it will take less time to dissolve in the water.

grated soap  

Make sure it is relatively flat in the jug and read off the quanitity, here it is approximately 100ml. Add 4 times as much boiling water (400ml in this case), taking the level in the jug up to 500ml.

Soap and water  

Stir the soap mixture until it has all dissolved.

Bored looking helper!  

Once it has dissolved, let the mixture go cold. It will set a bit like a jelly!

set cold liquid soap  

Then add some essential oils if you want to - I use 10 drops each essential oils of Rosemary and Lavender. Then beat the soap mixture until it is all gloopy and reasonably runny.

gloopy beaten soap  

Once you are sure the essential oils are mixed thoroughly throughout the soap, pour it into your dispenser. I use a funnel as I make less mess that way.

filled soap dispensers  

Posted by OneProudMomma at Wednesday, July 21, 2010 6:58 AM

Homemade Baby Wipes


Home made baby wipes

I was pushing Amelia down the 'Special Offers' aisle in the supermarket when I caught a display filled with baby products. Huggies nappies, Johnsons toiletries and baby wipes were all there, tempting me with their discounted prices. I grabbed the double pack of disposibles for £5 - yeah I know, she could be in washables. Better for the environment, better for my purse, etc. but they aren't better for me. Washable nappies means more laundry, and with a family of 7 plus an incontinent dog I have enough laundry already! - Anyway, back to the point...

I noticed on the shelf that the Johnsons baby wipes were better than half price, only £1 a packet. I felt quite pleased at that as they are my preferred brand of baby wipe, especially the Aloe Vera ones. I picked up three packets (one for the changing bag, one for the bathroom, one for the bedroom) and was just about to put them in the trolley when I paused. Usually, I would be congratulating myself on a good find, having saved in the region of £4 on the weekly shopping bill, but not this week. This week I thought "£3 just to wipe a bum? That's stupid. I should be making my own wipes again, or use baby lotion."

I must admit my previous experience making homemade baby wipes was not too successful. I used the method of sawing a kitchen roll in half, removing the cardboard tube from the middle and then letting it soak up some boiling water which I'd added a little baby bath too. Don't get me wrong the wipes worked, initially, but the damp kitchen paper used to stick to my hands and the babies bum as it seemed to break down after being damp for a few days. Maybe I needed a better quality paper to start with, I'm not sure, I might experiment with that later on!

I'm not too keen on using baby lotion and cotton wool for the same reason. The cotton wool fibres get clagged up with the baby lotion and then you end up having to pick bits of sticky fluff off your clothes, fingers and babies bum. There has to be another way.

Then I remembered The Basket in the bathroom. It's filled with goodies from my Mum; sample sized soaps, scented disposal bags and gauze wipes. to name a few. The gauze wipes are actually from a relative, every month they are given a set of supplies from the hospital. The kit they are given always contain gauze wipes which are often surplus to requirements but as it is part of their monthly kit they get given them anyway, lucky for me! I figured that if I could use the gauze wipes with the baby lotion the residual fluff on the bum problem would be solved.

With that thought in mind I reached out for the discount (only £1) bottle of Johnsons Baby Lotion, then that little voice piped up inside my head, "Bet the own brand baby lotion is cheaper". With my hands firmly on the trolley we set off for the baby toiletries section. Not only was the own brand cheaper, they even produced their own Value baby lotion at 10p per bottle. At that price I figured it had to be worth a go, and if it wasn't any good I probably still had a part bottle of Johnsons Baby Lotion courtesy of my Mum in The Basket in the bathroom.

From the previous experience with home made wipes I know that the container the wipes are kept in is important. It needs to be easy to fill, easy to open when you need a wipe in a hurry and relatively airtight so that the wipes don't dry out once made, an old baby wipe tub or one from toilet wipes is ideal. Someone was definitely smiling down on me today, the old Kandoo tub turned out to be the exact same size as the folded gauze wipes!

So armed with my old tub, free gauze wipes and 10p bottle of baby lotion I set to work.

How To Make Home Made Baby Wipes

First gather together everything you will need.

  1. Empty Tub
  2. Gauze Wipes
  3. Baby Lotion

Baby Wipe Materials

  1. Open up the gauze and place a fairly generous squirt of baby lotion at regular intervals throughout the stack. This is where I noticed that the Value baby lotion is actually superior, because it is runnier it is absorbed by the gauze much more readily.
    Squirting the stack of gauze
  2. Press down on the gauze stack so that it absorbs the lotion.
    Pressing the gauze stack
  3. Repeat the first couple of steps until the gauze pack is pretty much saturated with baby lotion (but not so much as it's dripping wet!)
  4. You will probably notice that the edges of the gauze are dry. Fan through the gauze with your thumb whilst dripping baby lotion onto the dry edges.
    Putting lotion on the edges of the gauze
  5. Press down on the gauze again, so that it absorbs the lotion.
  6. Repeat the dripping of lotion and pressing of the gauze for the other three sides of the stack of gauze.
  7. Once the gauze wipes are all saturated with lotion they are ready to be placed in the tub - I used approximately one third of the bottle (about 3p worth!).
    Placing the wipes in the tub
  8. Close the tub up and the wipes are ready to use straight away.
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:50 PM

Make your own table linen


Appliqué is an easy way to completely transform a plain, vintage tablecloth into something contemporary and stylish

Appliqué is an easy way to completely transform a plain, vintage tablecloth into something contemporary and stylish, and at the same time cover up any stains! You could also use a vintage linen or heavy cotton sheet – I used an embroidered Swiss cotton sheet which was in perfect condition and wonderfully heavy. If you want to start with new fabric, organic cotton sheeting is ideal – it is extra wide, 2.85m/112in., so you can easily buy a piece big enough for even the largest dining table.

What you need

A hand sewing kit
Safety pins
Items to use as circle templates – plates, jars, CDs
Large piece of organic cotton, vintage tablecloth or vintage sheet
Scraps of medium-weight, washable fabrics which don't fray too much
Embroidery threads

Note: You may prefer to iron lightweight interfacing onto the fabric scraps before cutting them out. It stops the fabrics from fraying and wrinkling

How to make it

1. Pre-wash the base fabric and all the scraps you use for this project as you don't want colours running in the wash. Also use a dye grabber when you wash, to catch any excess. Wash and iron the tablecloth/sheet/fabric. Mark any stains with safety pins so you can easily find them to cover with appliqué. If you are using new fabric, cut to the required size and hem all the edges.

2. Cut circles from medium-weight fabrics in a range of different sizes, from 6-20cm/21/2-8in. I used about 60 for this project. Spread out the cloth and pin the circles in a nice arrangement over the cloth, covering any stains if necessary. Pin in place, again using safety pins.

3. Starting at one side of the cloth, sew the circles down. Sew around the edges of each circle using either slipstitch (a) or blanket stitch (b). Slipstitch is much faster, so it depends how long you are prepared to work on the tablecloth! Tack or use more pins if required and smooth out each circle to ensure it doesn't wrinkle as you sew. Press when all the appliqués are attached.

It is quick and easy to make vintage linen napkins to match by sewing just a few small circles onto one corner of each napkin.

Buy Sew Eco: Sewing Sustainable and Re-Used Materials at the Guardian bookshop © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Make your own table linen
Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, July 20, 2010 10:45 AM

Evening Primrose Flowers


Evening Primrose Flowers  

You see a lot of Evening Primrose Oil products in the shops, mainly in the form of oil capsules and cosmetics, but Evening Primrose itself is a very easy plant to grow yourself. The oil is extracted from the seeds, however it is not really practical to press your own seeds as you would needs millions of them to produce a small amount of oil. I was fortunate enough to have Evening Primrose introduce itself to my garden after a couple of summers of neglect.

The photo at the top of the page shows the plant during its second year of growth, the year in which it flowers. During the first year of growth the elongated leaves form a rosette close to the ground, it is only during the second year that the flower stalk shoots up.

Even though it is impractical to produce your own oil from home grown Evening Primrose, you can still take advantage of some of the health benefits. The ripened seeds can be collected in the Autumn and once cracked (to help release the oil) can be used sprinkled on bread or used in baking in the same way that you would use poppy seeds. Save some of the seeds and sow them for more flowers in a couple of years time, although if you sow the seeds in the autumn indoors you will have first years plants ready to plant out in the Spring, basically saving you a years growing time.  

Evening Primrose Flowers  

The flowers, shown above, are edible and taste quite sweet. They can be used to decorate a leafy salad and would look very impressive if teamed up with peppery nasturtium flowers around the top of a summer salad bowl. You need to harvest them first thing in the morning, as Evening Primrose flowers at night and the blooms die off the following day.

The leaves from both the first and second year plants are edible, they are quite pungent in taste and also hairy which may be off putting for some. They can be eaten raw or cooked.

The roots are also edible, although I have read on one website that you should only eat the root from the first year plant it did not go into an explanation as to why that was the case. Other websites I have read about Evening Primrose on have stated that you eat the root from the second year plant. The one thing that these sites do agree on is that the root of the Evening Primrose can be used just the same as a regular root vegetable. Apparently the first year root tastes peppery, whilst the second year root tastes like sweetened parsnips. As I like the sound of the second flavour I'm intending to harvest the root on my Evening Primrose after it has finished blooming!


Posted by OneProudMomma at Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:47 AM

Crocheted Rag Rug


This is a project I completed some time ago so unfortunately I don't have any work in progress photographs. I will be making another rug soon, so I will document that with step-by-step instructions.

Crocheted Rag Rug  

To make the rug you will need a lot of old cloth - the rug above contains old pillow cases, flannel pyjama trousers, a pair of velvet jeans, some lining material, an old valance, a bit of an old curtain and a t-shirt. It was the first rug I ever made and I was aiming for an oval shape, unfortunately I was making the pattern up as I went along and I mis-counted which is why it is somewhat mis-shapen. Next time I am going to either make a circle or square/rectangle.

You will need a really big crochet hook to make a rug (a 10mm / number 000 is good) and be able at form a chain and single crochet stitches as described here.

To prepare the rags they will first need to be thoroughly washed and dried. Cut the rags into 1" wide strips as long as possible.

The rags will need to be stitched (or knotted) together so that you can use them in the same way you would yarn. There is a particular way to knot the rags, if you choose this method, which I will detail later when I make the next rug - it is not a straight forward knot as it needs to lie flat when the rug is crocheted.

Then you will make a few chains stitches to form the centre of the rug (it is the equivalent of casting on in knitting) and carry on with the single crochet stitches until the rug is the size you require. The rug above is just over 80cm long.

Some instructions for crocheting rag rugs say to stitch the edges of the rag strips over to limit any loose threads and make the rug neater, personally I find this time consuming and boring. I like the odd stray thread and a bit of knot showing through - I think it adds to the charm!

The photo below shows in more details the different fabrics used and how closely the stitches are formed.

A close-up view of the rug

When you look at the back of the rug you can see the knots where the fabric strips have been joined together. The loose ends can just be pushed in between the stitches to hold them into place.

Back of the rag rug  

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, July 18, 2010 2:14 PM

How To Upholster A Cheap Chair


Reupholstery and a little TLC can transform a cheap chair into a statement piece of furniture. In this extract from Revive!, a new book on recycled interiors, Jacqueline Mulvaney shows you how

Try working with a piece of furniture that you find at an auction house or junk shop. When I talk about furniture picked up at auction, I'm not talking antiques. Consult your telephone directory to find a saleroom in a small town rather than one in a big city, which can be a lot pricier. Most sales have preview days, and it's worth having a browse and looking closely at any pieces that catch your eye.

Check for basic soundness: is it fit for purpose, is it riddled with woodworm, is it more trouble than it's worth?

I have found a wooden-framed chair with a back and seat that need replacing. The chair is a lovely shape and will work well with my other furniture. It's not an old piece, cost just £8, and as it only needs stripping and small areas of fabric replacing it's perfect in terms of time.

Obviously, if you are feeling brave and have the time you might well want to try something more ambitious. If you decide to use a chair, try to find a chair with a removable seat.

What you need

Old chair
Paint stripper
Rubber gloves
Furniture wax or limewax
Tracing paper or pattern paper
Upholstery tacks
Sewing machine
Embroidery thread
Textile or craft adhesive
Staple gun (optional)

What to do: Stripping and cleaning

Before I strip and clean the chair I'm going to remove the pieces of fabric so I can use them as patterns. The chair has been coated with a thick, dark varnish and is generally a bit grubby. I'm using a product called Nitromors, which is a powerful paint stripper. If you are going to use a substance such as this you need to work outside or with very good ventilation. Wear a mask and rubber gloves, keep it away from pets and children and try not to splash it on your skin. Just follow the instructions and you'll be fine.

I'm going to wax my chair once I've finished removing the old varnish; this will bring out the grain and protect the wood. You can also limewax your piece; this will stain your furniture slightly and give it a chalky appearance. Limewax can be purchased from most good DIY stores or picture framers.


Try to use the existing upholstery as patterns for your new cover. Think about the type of fabric you are going to choose. I want this chair to be functional rather than merely decorative, so delicate fabrics won't work. As the areas to be recovered aren't huge I'm going to treat myself and buy some fabric. This is cheating, I know, but the website I'm going to use to source my fabric specialises in reclaimed fabrics. It's run by a lady called Donna Flower who is incredibly knowledgable, her website is a pleasure to use and she is constantly adding new fabrics. As I only need a metre of fabric and the chair was so cheap I think I can justify this little diversion.


Using tracing paper or pattern paper make yourself a pattern. Cut out your shapes from your selected fabric. I need to ensure that I cut sufficient material to allow me to pull it taut over the chair frame, but I don't need to hem the fabric because any uneven edges will be hidden by the trim.

My next step is to replace the seat cover and back of my chair. Starting with the chair back I am going to secure the fabric with upholstery tacks. As the tacks are visible I'm going to create a trim to cover this edge.


Taking a bundle of ribbon, I'm going to join a variety of lengths and widths to make enough to fit around the fabric on the back.

When you have the desired length of trim, set your sewing machine to embroidery mode. Using contrasting machine embroidery thread, stitch a trailing motif along the length of your ribbon. Don't feel you have to use an embroidery hoop for this; any distortion created through stitching will add rather than detract from your final trim. Using a good quality textile or craft adhesive, stick your finished trim in place. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

Fitting the seat cover requires the fabric to be stretched tightly across the pad making certain that the corners are neat. If the seat is removable, then take it out first. Pin the fabric in place as you work before tacking the fabric in place on the underside. The new seat can now be replaced. If you want to you can use a staple gun to secure the new fabric to the base. It's sometimes easier to get a tighter, more professional finish if you staple rather than tack. You should now have a unique piece of furniture which is both useful and lovely.

• Revive! Inspired Interiors from Recycled Materials is published on 10 May © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

How to reupholster a cheap chair
Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, July 18, 2010 12:01 PM

Braided Soother / Toy Holder


I recently taught my older two girls how to make friendship bracelets. I found the act of making them somewhat therapeutic and relaxing but couldn't think what to do with a load completed bracelets. I then came up with an idea of how to use the techniques need for a basic V pattern friendship bracelet and utilise that to make a cloth soother (dummy) holder for my youngest.

Soother holder modelled by Millie  

The holder is made from cotton yarn and features a loop to attach to the soother handle at one end and a button hole at the other, so you can attach to the little ones clothing. You will need to be able to make a 4 thread plait and a V patterened friendship bracelet to complete this project.

Soother holder


  1. Find 4 different coloured embroidery threads and something to hold the top of the braid whilst you are working on it - either a clipboard or a safety pin.
    4 cotton embroidery threads 
  2. Cut a 125cm (50") length from each thread, and lay them together.
    4 lengths of thread
  3. With the four threads held together tie a knot about 5cm (2") from the centre of the threads.
    knotted threads
  4. Using the longer threads, plait the 4 threads for 10cm (4") and tie another knot. This will form the loop of the holder.
    Plaited Loop
  5. Place the 2 knots side by side, and hold down the loop in whichever way you prefer for making your friendship bracelets - I usually pin the loop to my jeans!
    pinned braided loop
  6. Arrange the colour threads so that they mirror each other, in this case red, lilac, blue, pink on the left, pink, blue, lilac, red on the right. Start to braid all 8 threads in a V patterned friendship bracelet and continue for approximately 20cm (8").
    V pattern friendship bracelet 
  7. The button hole is formed by continuing the pattern with the left hand 4 threads only for 6 rows.
    left hand side of button hole
  8. And then work the V pattern on the right hand 4 threads for the same number of rows.
    Right hand side of button hole 
  9. Join the two middle threads together as you would when completing a whole row.
    Closing the buttonhole 
  10. Continue braiding another 5 rows
    finished braid 
  11. Take each two threads in turn, hold them together and knot them.
    Knotted threads to finish 
  12. Trim the loose threads to about 3cm (1.5") long and brush them to fluff them out.
    Completed soother holder 

Attaching the dummy to the holder

  1. Put the braid through the dummy handle.
    braid in dummy handle
  2. Thread the button hole end of the braid through the loop at the other end.
    Looped braid 
  3. Pull the button hole end of the braid so that the dummy handle is secured in the loop.
    secured dummy 
  4. Use the button hole around a button on the little ones clothes.
    Button hole 
Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, July 18, 2010 10:57 AM

12" Bacon & Cheese Flan


This flan can be eaten hot from the oven or left to go cold. One flan is just enough to feed my family consisting of 2 adults, 2 teens, 1 pre-teen & 2 toddlers when it is served with chips or potato wedges and a salad.

Bacon & Cheese Flan & Salad  

Quantity 6 slices
Total Cost £2.96
Price Per Portion 49p

These costs are based on shopping at Tesco and making your own pastry for the case. I always buy whichever strong cheese is on offer at the time. Although it is too strong for the children to eat I find that I need less of it in my baking to flavour the food, so it saves me money long term! Also, I don't buy my eggs from Tesco I buy them straight from a local farm so they only cost me £3.30 for a tray of 30 large eggs, unfortunately not many people have that luxury so I included the Tesco price for the eggs (it works out nearly 10p per portion cheaper using the farm eggs!)

12" pastry case (uncooked) 20.5p
McLellands Seriously Strong White Cheddar (500g) £2.50
Cooking Bacon (500g) £1.14
Big & Fresh Eggs Box Of 10 £2.08
Creamfields 0.75% Milk 3ltr £1.25
Saxa White Pepper 25g 27p
Tesco Value Mixed Herbs 18g 19p


Ingredient Metric Measure
12" pastry case (uncooked) 1 case
mature cheddar cheese 100g
chopped bacon bits (fat removed) 500g
large eggs 5
milk approx 150ml
ground white pepper large pinch
mixed dried herbs 1 teaspoon


  1. Pre heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line a 12" flan dish with pastry - click here to view the instructions - but do not cook the pastry case.
  3. Finely grate the cheddar cheese and set aside for later.
    Grated Cheese
  4. Trim the fat from the bacon and chop it (I find it easier to cut the bacon with kitchen scissors). Fry the bacon until it is cooked through and dry.
    cooked fried bacon pieces
  5. Beat 5 large eggs into a jug and enough milk to make it up to 500ml - usually about 150ml. If the level is much lower than 500ml add another egg.
  6. Add the herbs and pepper to the egg and milk mixture and beat together.
  7. Cover the bottom of the pastry case with the bacon and then sprinkle all the cheese over the top.
    cheese and bacon in pastry case
  8. Pour the egg and milk mixture all over the filling, making sure the bacon & cheese is covered.
    uncooked flan
  9. Place in the hot oven and bake for 40 minutes.
    Bacon and Egg Flan
  10. Serve either hot or cold, with salad and potato wedges or chips.
Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, July 18, 2010 10:50 AM