Paper ball garlands

I found these whilst browsing Pinterest and going from one list of suggestions to another. They looked pretty and the site gave a handy template to print out and cut around.

I tried the small size one morning before work (work avoiding)… a bit fiddly to start with and ever so slightly awkward to cut, but a lovely end result. As it was the end of term, with classes on computers (more work avoiding), I decided to do some more – the medium size on two different colours of card (as opposed to the plain white paper of before). This is far more sturdy but harder to slot together, but I liked the contrast of the two colours.

The Pinterest tutorial suggested handily to thread some cotton through the final ‘flower’ to make it easier to hang, which is good if you remember, which I didn’t on the last one so had to dismantle it, nearly ripping the flower.

Overall, easy and effective – with several compliments from my students, as they have been hanging from the side of my computer monitor on my desk.

My balls... hanging off my computer :P
My balls… hanging off my computer 😛

Link here:


French rhubarb cake

I have a patch of rhubarb growing in my garden, and other than stewed rhubarb (memories of childhood) or rhubarb crumble, I didn’t know what else to do with it. I found a fail-safe rhubarb crumble muffin recipe online, which I used several times but I decided I needed a change, so turned to Pinterest.

(How it should look)
(How it should look)

This recipe caught my eye as it is ‘French’ (being a French teacher) and has almonds in (yum). It was an easy recipe to follow, but I didn’t have half the rhubarb it called for, even with my supply being supplemented with some from my mum’s garden. Oh well, I just went for it and saw how it went… and it went well!

It was a very attractive finished cake and was a simple recipe to follow. It could prove a little dry, which may be why it called for so much rhubarb, but that just means it needs to be eaten up quickly whilst it is nice and moist! It was very tasty with a few strawberries as a garnish – something sweet to counteract the tartness of the rhubarb. A definite contender for the old muffin recipe.

My version... with distinctly less rhubarb in it!
My version… with distinctly less rhubarb in it!

Recipe here:

Clay food jar tags

I got the idea for these from two different places – ‘Kirsty’s Homemade Home’ and Instagram. The Instagram page was selling them for £1.50 each and I was tempted just to order some, until I remembered seeing how ‘easy’ they are to make, according to Kirsty Allsopp. I couldn’t be bothered to search through her Channel 4 site to find the clip of her making them, so I turned to Pinterest instead. This is what inspired me…

TagsHooray! I found a huge pack of modelling clay in Poundland in various colours and I already owned cookie cutters and letter stamps so I could start straight away, and had great fun preparing the tags.

It wasn’t going to prove as simple as that though… I found out the annoying way when the tags wouldn’t harden in the oven. So now I had to turn to Google and I discovered there are actually several different types of modelling clay, some designed not to harden. Great.

One order on Amazon later and I had Fimo to the rescue. These baked perfectly but proved trickier to paint. Pinterest told me to paint them with acrylic paint, leave them to semi-dry then wipe off the excess so only paint would be left in the letter grooves. Nope, the black paint simply smeared across the tag and left a mess. My solution was to leave that to dry then I lightly painted over the tags with white paint to hide the smears, before I varnished them. Not the neatest finish (and the original inspiration look far more professional, but they are made in ceramic rather than Fimo!), so just don’t look too closely!Summer 2015 052

PS. This is the first project for which I actually saved the Pinterest site I used…

Painted wicker basket

My mum gave me an old wicker basket she found in a charity shop but I felt something was missing from it… or on it. It looked a little dated, so remembering a clip on ‘Kirsty’s Homemade Home’ where she dipped wicker baskets in paint; I decided to go for a method which required less equipment – the lazy method (which also meant less clearing up)!wicker basket

So rather than emptying huge amounts of paint into a tub large enough to dunk the basket in, I armed myself with a paintbrush and tester pot of paint – in fact, the same tester pot I used for the mirror and blackboard frames. Yes, it was more fiddly and time-consuming but for my slightly OCD ways, it was more pleasing as it has a much neater finish.

The only trouble is due to the weaving, there is no neat match up of lines from the start to the end of the section I painted – on the corner I started from, the end is a row above the start… but that corner faces the wall so is hidden.

Time-consuming, but it was a job to work on whilst the paint on the blackboard frame was drying, and the basket looks a lot more modern now. But there is a lid, so do I paint that too…?Summer 2015 001

Mini blackboard

Last year I bought a mini blackboard from Poundland as a possible prop for my wedding… but the chalk wouldn’t write on it as it was too plasticky, so it got tucked in a corner and forgotten until now. I had paint left over from the mirror frame and I bought a tin of blackboard paint from The Range for about a fiver.


I painted the plain wooden frame first and it only took two coats of paint. Then I layered on the blackboard paint. I suppose this wasn’t really a Pinterest project as the sites I visited were for painting MDF or similar bases rather than a piece of ‘blackboard’ (in Poundland’s eyes). I did about three layers of this paint as the brand I bought is also magnetic, so the more layers, the more magnetic it gets. I didn’t mask off the frame as it proved too fiddly, so I relied on just a steady hand on the edges.

I decided to use the blackboard in the kitchen for the weekly menu (yes, we’re that organised!), using Velcro picture hanging pads for easy putting up and pulling down from the side of the fridge. I think it looks pretty good, and it’s very handy!Summer 2015 002

Painted mirror frame

This was the first upcycling project I set my mind to and I headed to Pinterest to get some ideas… could I just paint the orangey old pine mirror frame or would more be needed?

I checked a few sites suggested by Pinterest and saw it wouldn’t be too difficult – just some sanding, masking and several layers of paint.

The sanding took some time as there was a thick layer of varnish on the frame, but then I masking-taped the mirror glass to avoid having to scrape off paint afterwards. I had my tester pot of blue paint all ready (to match in with the blue stripy curtains in the bedroom) and got painting. It was a hot day so I got three coats of paint done very quickly.

MirrorI decided not to ‘shabby chic’ the frame by scuffing it up with sandpaper as I liked the look of the fully painted frame.

An easy first upcycling project, and it looks good on the wall!

Mirror 2