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Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Crafting Your Own Casino - Playful Crafting Ideas

As the winter months arrive and the weather is too cold to venture outside, we start to look
at alternatives to keep ourselves entertained at home and options which allow us to share
good times with our friends and family. Most people love nothing more than a trip to the casino, so why not create your very own casino in the comfort of your own home? There are many affordable ways to craft your own casino and make it look and feel authentic, providing hours of fun and entertainment to share with loved ones.

Choose Your Games

There are plenty of casino games around, so the possibilities are endless when it comes to setting up your own casino. Poker is one of the obvious games which should definitely make an appearance and Black Jack is also a popular choice amongst those who like a flutter!

Prior to starting your casino and welcoming your guests, you should make sure you know the rules of the games inside out as this you will be expected to answer questions. A casino is not quite the same if no-one knows how to play and could result in a riot in your home if money is involved! Some people might say that they used to play Omaha with my dad, but cannot quite remember the rules, so it is worthwhile having the knowledge to be able to help them.

Create Tables

When you have decided on the most appropriate games to suit your audience, you will need to set up some tables. Your guests will want to be able to move around freely and make a choice on their preferred game, so you should have several games running at the same time. The authenticity of the casino is completely up to you, but the more realistic it is to the real thing, the more fun it will be. It is quite easy to mimic the tables of a real casino by buying casino-style coverings, which are made of green felt. A quick trip to the local craft store will provide all you need for your tables. You can also make your own cards if you want to put your creativity to good use, or these can be purchased at low costs from local games stores.

Managing Money

There is the option of playing without money but where’s the fun in that? A true casino should have proper chips, which you can make yourself with some plywood, glue and scissors. There are a number of computer programs which will allow you to design your chips so that they look like the real thing and then you can use your tools to create the finished article. You should be clear to your guests on the value of the chips and have someone to manage the money.

Where’s the Bar?

Casinos and alcohol often go hand in hand, so why not set up a bar where people can help themselves as they move around the tables. Of course this could end up costing you a lot of money so why not ask your guests to bring their own bottle.

It is relatively simple and affordable to set up your own casino, especially if you can be creative with your ideas.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


I love the Craft Exchange at Craftaholics Anonymous! I'm never disappointed with the results. Linda puts together one fab exchange. My hat goes off to her and all of her hard work making it happen.

This year, as I said in my previous post, I was paired up with a teenage girl from South Africa. We swapped a few emails back and forth and she filled me in on a bit of her and her life. The word "Hipster" stood out for me. Then I felt old. I didn't really know what that meant. The only thing that I could safely say that I could associate with the word was Instagram. She mentioned that she loved reading in her spare time.


handmade bookmark Instagram bookmark

I love the friendship bracelet using the Instagram colours :-) makes me happy. The "Find Joy in The Ordinary" quote is one of my favorites. I wanted to find a way to get it in there too. I think the Polaroid picture quote goes well with the camera.

This week, I received her gift to me.

The detail in the mosaic is so great. I cannot believe that it arrived safe and sound from South Africa like this!! You can't really tell from the picture but the clear parts are mirrors. She has done such a fantastic job and I could not be more pleased with the gift I received.

Once again, super pleased with the whole experience with the Craft Exchange and really looking forward to the summer exchange next year.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Interior Colour Scheme Trends For Autumn/Winter 2013

With the changing of seasons comes a whole new and exciting colour palette. We’ve definitely left summer far behind now and are ploughing through autumn. Before you know it, winter will be here, which will bring warm and cosy nights in by the fire, snuggled under a blanket, and steaming mugs of hot cocoa. There’s plenty of reason to be happy about the upcoming seasons – if nothing else, it gives you a chance to redecorate your home to match the change in weather and temperature. But what are the in-colours of the moment? Let’s take a look at the interior colour scheme trends for autumn/winter 2013.

If you’re looking for a classy, opulent finish for your home, then gold is the ideal colour for you. You can tone it down with a neutral earthy shade or bling it up by teaming it with bronze and silver metallic hues. It’s completely up to you whether you wish to use gold sparkly wallpaper to create a feature wall, or whether you’d prefer to pick out certain room features with gold accents. Of course, if you feel that a fully gold room is a little too much, there’s nothing stopping you from adding a touch of luxury to a neutral room with gold accessories.

Muted earthy tones are also big at this time of the year. Choose natural looking colours that are reminiscent of nature and you can’t really go wrong. As earth tones usually contain oranges and browns, this will add warmth to your home and help you to feel cosy during the colder winter months.

The all-time classic black and white will never go out of fashion. For some people, their home has to look like it’s come from the pages of a glossy magazine. Well, if you’re looking to recreate that effect, then black and white monochrome detailing will nail it perfectly. Keep it classic with a white backdrop and black accents or mix things up and reverse the colours. A black room will instantly be brightened with splashes of white. Use white in this case to draw attention to statement features of the room.

Bright and bold
At this time of the year, it can start to look a little bleak outside. Moods are generally blue due to the lack of sunlight and tempers can be frayed with the stress of Christmas. A great way to boost your mood is to invite plenty of bright and bold colours into your home. You don’t have to paint an entire room in a bright shade if you feel that’s too much. Instead, add colour with accessories and furniture. The best thing about doing it this way is that it’s fairly cheap and you can change the look of your room easily and as often as you like.

It doesn’t take much to change the look of a room – all you need is a few pots of paint in the colour of your choice and some matching accessories. Don’t worry if your budget is a little low either, as a lick of paint will not set you back by much and may be all you need to keep your room looking fresh for another year or so.

Guest article contributed by interior design blogger Rachael Blakewood on behalf of loft conversion and home improvement specialists Econoloft

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Its that wonderful time of year where the ever-talented Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous kicks off her Handmade Gift Exchange! I am very excited to participate in the International exchange again this year.

Last year, my giftee was a wonderful lady from England and this year I have a been paired with a gorgeous girl form South Africa!

So for my Throwback Thursday post this week, I thought I would take you back to last year's post on the Exchange.

handmade gifts

I'm starting my gift today. I've spent alot of time on Pinterest trying to figure out what to make. She sounds like such an amazing girl with a wide variety of tastes so I have alot to choose from...

Is anyone else participating in this great exchage? Or have you in the past? Would love to hear from you with ideas, stories etc. (I'd just love to hear from you really ;-)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Today is 9 years....9 years of a wonderful marriage. I can safely say I married the man of my dreams.

Sometimes there are moments but for the most part, life is wonderful.

He spoils me. Historically, he's always home the day of our anniversary and he's able to put together something fantastic to wow me when I get home from work. This year IM off!

It's my turn.

We have so many different little stories so I wanted to find a way to capture them in one place.

This is what I came up with.

handmade personal gift

There are special dates, words to "our song" and little snipets of our life so far. I could have added so much more but I only had an 8 x 10 canvas!!

Handmade Personal gift DIY

I was pretty happy with the way it turned out! It's a simple project once you have the words you want. Go to PicMonkey and "create a collage". Pick your background colour, then your fonts and type away! The site is so easy to use and you can create something absolutely beautiful in no time at all. Go and check it out if you haven't already.

What do you think of this as a little anniversary gift for your partner?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


I find myself constantly saying "no".

"Mom, can I just have...."
"Please Mom, I won't ask for anything else...."
"But Mom!!! I really want it!!

Kids can be expensive. And if you don't nip this in the bud soon, it's just going to get more expensive as they grow up. This is why it is so important to teach children early about savings.

The one thing I know for certain about kids stuff is that the older they get, the smaller and more expensive their stuff gets....

A few years ago we introduced "pocket money". This was a chore based system that we adapted in order to have him work for the things that he wanted. We have adjusted this as he's gotten older, adding a few extra chores and dropping others. For example; when he was 4-5, brushing his teeth was something that we wanted to really encourage, so we made it a money-earning chore. Now that he's 7, brushing his teeth is non-negotiable and therefore doesn't earn him money. BUT, he's now old enough to make his bed and put his laundry away...

We operate a £2 a week system, where he has a set list of chores that need to be completed on a daily / weekly basis in order for him to receive the £2 on Friday evening. There are strict rules with this as he has a great knack for arguing at the moment. If there is any fussing or fighting to start or complete the chore, NO CASH. These are non-negotiable rules for us. It is important to us that he learns that there are some things in life that he just has to do...simple as that. Mom and Dad don't mess here....

As an extention to the £2 a week, we also offer the availability of extra chores. These are chores that are outside of the regular daily / weekly set that we feel that he can handle. For instance; helping with the dusting, vacuuming, washing the car with Dad, gardening etc. For every chore he completes during the week from these possibilities, he earns 50p. So, depending on what he feels like doing during the week, he can earn himself a tidy little sum of cash!!

It was important for us to show him very clearly that there are things that are expected of him and ALSO, if he chooses, he can get rewarded for his extra efforts.

There are long terms goals that we ask him to focus on - like a particular toy he wants - and there are shorter term gains that he would rather (like spending his £2 on sweets at the corner shop). For the most part, he has kept his eye on the prize. 

This Friday will mark £20 in his money box. I know this may not seem like a great sum of money to most, but for our son, this marks the start of a commitment to working for what he wants and ultimately, getting it himself!! 

Next step in our money lessons will be to help him set up a savings account. We are planning to offer him a "match your savings" plan. This means that for every £ he saves (towards his savings account) within the month, we will match this amount with him. For instance, if he chooses to save half of his monthly pocket money (£4) towards his savings account, we will match it and add £4 of our own. We're hoping that this way he will see how potentially rewarding it can be to save as well as spend!!

Thursday, 17 October 2013


What’s your number? That is the question that Cait Hall asks......

Mine is 5. Cait candidly confesses hers to be 38. 38 tried and failed diets in her short lifetime. This is something we don’t often discuss amongst us women but if you ask me our past failures only make us stronger. This is definitely the case for Cait as you can see from her new book – The Lying, The Bitch and the Wardrobe.  

Her hilarious account and dissection of each and every one of the “fad diets” she’s tried left me laughing so hard that I think I had a small abs workout (she’s the gift that just keeps on giving!!!)

Cait’s background has provided the perfect training to write this book. Not only does she have a background in science but she is also the editor of a national health magazine. So if anyone is going to know the market, its Cait. She’s been there and done it all and she completes the journey by giving us a final chapter detailing what REALLY works for long term weight loss. 

I have been fortunate enough to get a few amazing glimpses at this project. I have to tell you, this will be THE book. The book you buy for yourself and the book you give to every one of your girlfriends that are going through their own weight loss struggle. 

Here’s where you come in. With every amazing project there comes a challenge. The challenge here is that this fabulous book needs to get to print. There is a Kickstarter campaign started for publication of this book. This is not a “gimme all your money” request. This is a friendly nudge in the direction of something amazing. I have “backed the project” with the little bit I can afford as I feel that this is a book that the world needs to see.  

We are capable of great things, each and every one of us. Cait Hall is on her own amazing journey to see her dream come to life. If we can support her in that journey, why not?? If you can’t afford to back the project, why not share the campaign in your own way? It’s the little things in life that make all the difference.

Sign up for her book release here : http://thelyingthebitchandthewardrobe.co.uk/

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A Few Comfort Tips From A New(ish) Crafter

As someone who's recently taken up home crafting as a personal hobby (I say "crafting" so generally because I've dabbled in everything from needlework to some amateur woodworking), I thought I might share a few helpful tips I've compiled over my first few months. I've always had a creative mind, but haven't applied it in a physically artistic manner in - well, decades - so naturally my new(ish) crafting endeavors presented me with a whole bunch of new experiences, along with adjustments that needed to be made.

The first, quite honestly, was that I had to work on my fingernails. Truth be told, nibbling at my nails is one habit I never quite kicked growing up, though to be honest it wasn't too difficult to stop. If this is an issue for you and you really have trouble quitting, you can usually find a few different products to help your efforts at the closest Walgreens, but really a little discipline should do the trick. I can't count on both hands the number of times legitimate fingernails have come in handy in crafting projects, however, so this is something to keep in mind!

Another serious adjustment for me had to do with vision, and if you're over the age of 35 or 40, you'll likely have similar issues, from what I've heard. My specific vision issue is known as "presbyopia," and though that sounds rather dramatic it's really just a fancy name for far-sightedness. Not that I have eagle vision at long distances, but as I've aged I've had more trouble getting a clear look at what's right in front of me (such as needlework), which is a problem for a lot of crafting and artistic tasks. I'd recommend reading up on the condition at Acuvue, where there's helpful information about what presbyopia means and how you can correct it. The right contact lenses or reading glasses can work wonders.

And then finally, there were the rough fingertips and borderline calluses that I occasionally began to develop through two of my favorite new artistic activities - drawing by hand, and, again, needlework. When these activities are new to you, your fingers can easily develop a bit of roughness and irruption (or at least mine did), and it can make it a bit uncomfortable to keep going with your projects, at least for a short time. Crazy enough, I found someone having similar issues at the site needlenthread.com, along with a quirky but oddly helpful remedy involving a mixture of olive oil and sugar! It's worth a shot, and simple enough to try.

So there are my two cents about a few mild discomforts and issues I've encountered since getting into crafting hobbies. Of course in addition to managing these issues, there are plenty of little skills and tips to learn along the way - but the first step, for me, is comfort, and the above tips and tricks helped me enormously in that department.

Happy crafting!

Saturday, 28 September 2013


I'm not going to talk alot about this one. I think it speaks for itself.

I found this on Pinterest in another format and I adapted it to this using chalkboard fonts.

It was something so simple but to 2 very important ladies in my life, I hope it gave some comfort.

dogs loss chalboard frame

Thursday, 26 September 2013


It is very hard as a parent to feed your child at times. I don’t mean from a financial standpoint but more from a dietary standpoint. 

Just chatting to some of the other mothers in the school yard you hear the stories of picky eaters, packed lunch restrictions and of course severe allergy warnings. 

So with all of the hurdles in the lunch routine, what do you do? I know for most of us we end up making the trusty ‘ol sandwich...

Now, I don’t know about you but I am constantly bombarded by the diet industry telling me that anything “white” isn’t good for you. White rice, white pasta, white bread....Basically anything using refined white flour.
It’s easy to take that information that is being drilled in to you constantly and apply that to your children. 

BUT, is it right??? 

My son will not eat brown / wholemeal bread. I can’t get him to get past it. There is something too different for him to get over. So as a parent, what do you do? Give him the white bread that you’re told is full of sugar and refined flour?? Not an easy decision is it? 

When Mumsnet HQ asked me to take part in this discussion about the Warburton’s study, I jumped at the chance as this is a battle I have on a daily if not weekly basis in my house. 

There was a huge amount of data provided. Graphs and charts on the recommended daily values of nutrients and vitamins in children were provided to illustrate the daily needs versus the actual levels in children who consumed different types of bread. 

My analysis of the information provided lead me to the conclusions that while you should be mindful of what goes in to your sandwiches (fillings etc) both white and brown / wholemeal bread provide children with a high % of the recommended daily values. Here are some highlights from the report that I would like to share: 

The results from this analysis indicate that the most important reason for children to consume bread is that it increases their likelihood of meeting the recommended nutrient intakes for both 6 and 7 year olds for energy and carbohydrate, and selenium in particular. When children who ate bread on 2 or more occasions (estimated to be equivalent to 1.5 slices of bread twice per day), they were also more likely to meet requirements for calcium and starch, and for 6 year olds also more likely to meet requirements for fibre and iron. The downsides of consuming bread were that recommendations for total fat and salt were more likely to be adversely exceeded. 

So in my opinion, I think we should obviously try to feed our children the best that we can. Foods which are free from over-processing and high sugar contents. However, ultimately we shouldn’t stress about the process as all breads provide benefits to your children in some shape or form.

I guess the old adage is true “everything is good, in moderation”.  

I would like to thank MNHQ for the opportunity to be part of this discussion. The opinions expressed above are my own.