Monday, 26 November 2012

NEW website!!

Japp Design have made Martha & Me a lovely new website...check it out at  I will be adding to the shop and updating the blog in the next couple of weeks. 

For anyone local to Cambridge Martha and Me along with Origami-Est will be having a stall at Mayfield School, Cambridge-  Christmas market on 30th november (7.30-10.00). 

and these are some shades i recently made to order....

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Miffy cake - step by step

I can't believe Martha is 2 tomorrow! This Miffy cake is my first attempt at a novelty cake. I struggled to decide on a character, she loves Peppa Pig, Raa Raa, Postman Pat, Noddy etc so it was a tough call. I decided on Miffy mostly because she is my favourite and we have the book 'Miffy's Birthday' which we can read tomorrow. I hope Martha likes it!

This is a basic guide to how i made it (i am a novelty cake novice so please excuse errors or unprofessional methods!)

I made a simple template, this ensured i had enough cake and the scale looked ok before i committed to cutting!

The cake was made in two round and one square tins. I made a simple sponge. I mixed up 12oz SR flour, 12oz Sugar, 12oz butter, 6 eggs, 1tsp vanilla and 2tspbaking powder. The icing is fondant icing and I used some of those lovely gel food dyes to make the pink,

The finished result!!!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Recently my life has seemed predominately focused on Martha's sleep, or rather lack of sleep....
We are trying to reduce and stop day time naps (with a hope of her sleeping more at night!) so i have lost my craft slot :( I can't really use the sewing machine when she is around so I am doing a bit more jewellery making as I can do this at the table whilst she is playing. I have been making things with buttons and resin cabochons. Cabochon is a totally new word and craft for me but I am enjoying the results!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Tea cup candles

A lovely friend showed me how to make candles a few months ago At crafty spice (my craft club!) I made these scented candles in pretty vintage tea cups for friend's birthday.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


I have been using scraps of fabric and decopatch glue to collage over some really naff Christmas baubles I found cheap at the B&M store.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Wrapped soaps gift idea

I always love ideas that turn an ordinary gift into something special for friends. Wrapping a bar of soap in pretty paper, fastening with ribbon and attaching a parcel tag immediately elevates the aesthetic of a humble soap to something superior. I have wrapped up bars of the Body Shop's mango soap which smells gorgeous, it is important to use soap you would actually like to use! I decided to stamp the word 'soap' on the tag but you could also stamp a personal message, name or quote. Any fabric or paper could create the wrapper; I would like to try music manuscripts, maps and lace in the future.....I will have to get collecting!. The wrapped soap could be adorned with buttons, a brooch or even dried flowers for extra detail.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Pretty machine appliquéd hand towels

This is a really easy gift idea or quick way to jazz up your bathroom or kitchen. I used some plain hand towels and scraps of my favourite fabric to make pretty customised towels. I simply cut the fabric to size and machine stitched it onto the edge of the towel. I also added a hook with ribbon so the towel could be hung on a hook in our kitchen. You could also add buttons and decorative beads. For a wedding present how about embroidering or appliquéing the couples names or initials? I am going to make matching face cloths and hand towels as presents using my friends favourite fabric designs.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Christmas stocking

I know it's only October but all the lovely Christmas fabrics in the shops have inspired me. I found this Christmas Dove  fabric in Dunelm Mill (new to Cambridge) for just £3.99 a meter. The green fleece lining is a blanket I also found in Dunelm for £1.99. This is going to be Martha's stocking so I wanted it to be both cosy and practical and the fabrics really work for this purpose. I used the stocking tutorial on The Eternal Makers blog as a guide and it was really easy to follow(10 out of 10!). The stocking took well under an hour to make so i was able to make it during Martha's nap (and  still do the washing up!)- an important requirement! 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Cinnamon rolls

In Cambridge we have a cafe/cake shop called Cinnabon. You may have guessed from the name but It only sells variations of cinnamon rolls. Its delicious but sadly incredibly expensive. By that I mean crazy prices that just cannot be justified however yummy the produce. So today I thought I'd give baking my own cinnamon buns a try. I used the recipe in British Baking by Peyton and Byrne. It was easy to follow but rather time consuming because of the amount of time bread takes to rise and knead. You do get an impressive result and it is a calming and satisfying process (like with any bread making!). Overall the effort was definitely worth it!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

My favourite lemon drizzle recipe

This lemon drizzle cake is from the Peyton and Byrne British Baking book. It works every time, is really easy and above all tastes delicious....what more could you want!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Birthday chocolate button jar

At the weekend I made a jar of chocolate buttons to take with me to a friends birthday celebrations. As in previous projects i used my lovely button mould and melted different types of chocolates to make the buttons both more interesting visually and to taste. I used one of my lovely cath kidston stickers for the label.
These would make lovely Christmas presents for both adults and children.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Yet more cards!

Amy butler fabric peg bag

Today I made myself a peg bag out of some lovely Amy Butler fabric. I have been saving this fabric for ages because i hadn't found a suitable project for it. I love the colours and bold print but It's quite a loud style and could easily overwhelm! I used a child's wooden coat hanger for the hook and drew round the shape of the hanger to make a template.

Friday, 28 September 2012


Photos of Martha testing out mummy and daddy's work spaces! i think mine is much more fun! I have been working on some new cards for the craft fair!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Some of my recent 'made to order' shades

I love making lampshades to order as the customer can get exactly what they want.

It can be so difficult to find the perfect shade even at big stores with lots of choice. Many people end up choosing a plain shade as a 'safe' option which seems a shame if it is not what they really want but still costs them lots of money.

I may be biased because I always love patterns and I have a thing for lampshades but a custom made shade is a really good option. On average mine cost between £25-£50 which is comparable to department store prices like John Lewis and Debenhams.

Having a shade made for you is really not as much of an extravagance as one may think!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Cambridge Made It Market - Save the date!

I am really excited that Martha & Me will be having a stall at: 

In preparation I have started to make Christmas cards......

.......and a large delivery of lampshade parts have arrived so I need to get super busy making lots of things to sell. 

Hope to see you there!  

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

My top 5 tips to save money without scrimping!

As you may have guessed by now, I love up-cycling, charity shops and generally finding a good bargain. The savings you can make with simple changes and thrifty decisions is amazing. Thinking about these things encourages me to think more creatively about what I already own and how I spend. I aim to be a good steward of my money and the following tips are some of the ways I try and watch my pennies.......I don't see them as rules rather ideas and sometimes even challenges.

My 5 simple top tips for saving money and being thrifty :
1) Be prepared to up-cycle furniture you already own. I often find with even minimal effort you can transform furniture and furnishings and give them a new lease of life. For example try updating a tired sofa by recovering your cushion covers or adding a coordinating throw. A quick lick of paint can transform a piece of furniture; consider adding a panel of patterned wallpaper or decoupage detail. Changing handles on a chest of drawers or recovering chairs can also make a huge differences 

2) If you shop for your children's clothes in charity shops why not plan ahead and buy things when you see them; get an under-bed storage box or similar and stock pile your finds, buy when you find a bargain even if it won't fit the child for several months/years! However be sure to check back regularly so you don't forget what sizes you have in stock! Buying in advance will mean you are prepared and don't find yourself suddenly needing clothes and having to buy new. You can often find bulk bags of clothes on gumtree, free-cycle at car boots and from ebay, these can be a real bargain. I think I have saved loads on Martha's clothes by doing this. 

3) Christmas and Birthday presents can be so expensive so don't be afraid to buy in advance when you see things in sales. You often spend so much more when you buy in a hurry. Have a present and card drawer so you won't be caught out and not have enough time to find a bargain. The January sales are the best time to buy Christmas cards, decorations and crackers. I would also recommend planning ahead and making presents. There are lots of great books out there with fantastic homemade gift ideas. I always love receiving homemade gifts like sweet treats, preserves, jewellery and homewares.  

4) It sounds obvious but before you buy compare the price. The internet has made this really easy for us to do, a simple search will usually give you an idea of what you should be paying. There also specific money saving and price comparioson Apps to help. The variation of prices for the same product can be huge so make sure you have checked! 

5) I am no money expert but I have been living off a fairly tight budget for a number of years. I hate budgeting but have found it really helpful to have a separate account for 'spending money'. Once the account is empty that's it, no more coffees out or impulsive purchases till the next month.....

SO in summary...... shop second hand, make use of what you already have, try making presents, check the price, buy in advance and set a budget! Simple! 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dinner time

I have a lot of cookbooks (hmmm probably too many) I love reading them and I really enjoy trying (and of course eating) new recipes.

My usual motivation for picking up a recipe book is when I know that we are having guests around for food or I am baking for one of the many college events (there is a lot of cake eating at vicar school so this is a regular occurrence!).

Recently I thought I would go through my cookbook shelves and hunt for recipes that are 'everyday meals'. For me this means they are fairly cost effective and quick to put together. Ultimately I want recipes that could become a regular on the Robson table and that after a few tries I could remember the recipe without having to read it step by step. The Philadelphia cookbook and Nigella Express have been brilliant for this as they have loads of simple yet yummy dishes.

This week I have been looking at the Avoca Cafe Cookbook and tonight I made the Chard, Spinach, Ricotta and Pancetta (my own addition as I have a veggie-phobic husband!) Cannelloni. It was delicious and fairly simple to make. I was really pleased that Martha (now 21months old) also ate the whole portion as its not typical toddler food. We would definitely recommend this recipe and I am looking forward to trying the Avoca cookbook fish cakes tomorrow night.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sunny September

It is a beautiful sunny day in Cambridge and I am making the most of my little craft studio whilst Martha naps. Today I am making a selection of greetings cards for Mia Bella Casa.  Mia Bella Casa is a lovely gift and homeware shop in the seaside village of Ferring, West Sussex. They sell a wide range of locally made gifts and also stock Nkuku one of my favourite fairtrade brands.
The cards I make for the shop are all different and mostly involve machine appliqué with embellishments such as beads and buttons. I have been using lots of different fabrics and love trying out different combinations of colours and patterns.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hen Party

This weekend Martha and Me were busy leading a hen party workshop in Cambridge. Craft parties are perfect for such occasion and so much fun! More details about my party workshops (delivered at your chosen location) will be available on my new website which is coming soon.....  

Chocolate cheesecake with handmade chocolate buttons!

I love Lorraine Pascale's cook books. Everything I have tried from 'Baking Made Easy' and 'Home Cooking Made Easy' has been delicious and as it claims they have been truly 'easy' to make!
Tomorrow I am hosting a pudding party for Spice (the group for the spouses of trainee vicars at Ridley) so I looked through all my books for something I could bake in advance as tomorrow is a rather busy day. I settled on Lorraine's chocolate cheesecake. The only draw back was that the recipe takes 400g chocolate and a huge 800g of soft cheese. Which makes the recipe not exactly healthy and rather expensive to make. I'm not too fussed about the health factor (hopefully I won't be eating it all myself) but the cost is a bit off putting. I decided to go to the bargain supermarket Aldi to try and reduce the cost of the pudding and it worked the total ingredient cost was a mere£4.06 compared to the £10+ it would have cost at my corner shop!
I decorated the cheesecake with some white chocolate buttons which were made using a cute button mould that i was given as a birthday present (thank you Anna B you know me so well!)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Martha's busy summer

Like many bloggers over the summer months my blog has been somewhat neglected. Martha and I have been off on our summer holidays enjoying the English sun and rain. These are some photos of Martha's highlights.We stayed we my parents on the South Coast for about a month so Nanny, the cat and their garden feature heavily!

I enjoyed many of the trips and days out we had. Whilst most people were heading up to London for the olympics we went to Tate Modern for the day and visited Damien Hirst's exhibition. I was thankful that some of the concepts in the exhibition went right over martha's head, i did get some funny looks whilst showing her the animals cut in half. For Martha though it was no different to seeing a jigsaw of an animal split into many pieces! My favourite work was the montage of blue butterflies arranged to look like a cathedral rose window called 'Sympathy in White Major - Absolution 11'.

Now we are back in Cambridge and ready for crafting! 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

My derelict Dolls house

I am a huge fan of Gumtree (if you haven't come across it before it is best described as an online Friday Ad!) I scour the pages on a daily basis for items that I usually don't really need for the chance that I may stumble upon an amazing bargain or something j actually need. And so the other week I found this unloved but rather charming dolls house. It is in serious need of what estate agents would call modernisation. It has 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and a large lounge/dinning room all in a bad state! I am approaching this project with as much thought and interest as you would with a real house and i have been looking at home magazines and websites with great interest! Perhaps it is with the thought of us living in rented property for the foreseeable future and therefore unable to make my mark on a property that I am projecting my array of interior design ideas onto this project....

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Martha's car

This weekend (sorry this was actually written in may!)I have been particulary overwhlemed by the generosity and kindness of both strangers and friends. Perhaps it's the good spirit of the bank holidays combined with the joy of celebrating the jubilee that has made people really community minded.
Our church organised a big lunch and I was amazed at all the people that came from the neighbourhood. It was wonderful to talk to neighbours from all faiths and backgrounds; the world is so much better when people show interest and concern for each other. 
Then some close friends out of the blue offered to babysit, so my husband and I got a much needed evening out. It was lovely for someone to offer and made me feel really cared for. 
The third 'happy' incident was That i got talking to a neighbour who offered Martha a little tikes toy car for the garden. Martha loves these so much but I hadn't been able to find one cheaply so it was such a blessing to be given one for free! Martha was a bit upset when she realised it has to live outside so perhaps we can make her a mini garage. I wonder if she can start building up a no claims bonus for her car insurance!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

My Cambridge Charity Shopping Guide

Martha & Me:Cambridge 

Top 5 Tips for charity shoppers


They are situated just off the A10 about 4 miles north of Cambridge. This HUGE charity shop is an Aladdin's cave full of treasures! Books are a bargain. At the moment they are 5 paperbacks for £2! They sell:
  • Books
  • Bric a brac
  • Electrical items, including cookers, fridges, washing machines, televisions and hi-fis
  • Furniture
  • Music (records, cds cassettes) and dvds 
  • Soft furnishings including bedding, curtains, towels
  • Coffee Shop selling drinks, cakes, sandwiches and soup
They also have a brilliant home delivery service. I have used this a number of times when i have realised the futon or wardrobe i have just purchased will definitely not fit in the car! The charge for the service is very reasonable and they are helpful and efficient.

2) Burleigh Street

Burleigh Street in Cambridge (runs alongside Grafton Centre) is THE place to go for charity shops in Cambridge. At my last count there were 7 within about 100m! 

  1. 10 Burleigh Street
    City Centre, Cambridge
    01223 368 865

    British Heart Foundation

  2. 20 Burleigh Street
    City Centre, Cambridge
    01223 329 841


  3. 38 Burleigh Street
    City Centre, Cambridge
    01223 302 926


  4. 26 Burleigh Street
    City Centre, Cambridge
    01223 301426

    British Red Cross shop

  5. 33 Burleigh Street
    City Centre, Cambridge
    01223 360 205


  6. 52 Burleigh Street
    01223 464189

    Cancer Research UK

  7. 61 Burleigh Street
    City Centre, Cambridge
    01223 312 802

    Rspca Cambridge

The only down side for me is that because they are fairly small shops most of them (especially oxfam where there is no lift) are not great for buggies or wheelchair access. 

3) Mill Road

Mill Road has a good selection of charity shops. They tend to be cheaper than the Burleigh Street shops. The Cats Protection charity shop have a bucket of kids clothes which are 3 items for £1. I once found a next hat, gap all in one suit and jumper in the bucket - a pound well spent. At the top of Mill Road you will find the Romsey Mill shop this is great if you like 'old fashioned' charity shops; it is not as glossy and as sweet smelling as the the chain charity shops but you can certainly find a bargain! The other notable shop on Mill Road is Sally Ann's which has amazingly cheap furniture and plentiful 'bric a brac'.   

4) Ely and Saffron Walden

For a change of scene and for 'up market' charity shops we visit Ely and Saffron Walden. You will find labels such a Monsoon, White Stuff and Boden on nearly every rail! Yesterday in Ely Oxfam I found Martha a Ralph Lauren jumper for £2 and i got myself a Fat Face dress for £4!

5) Patience 

Last but certainly not least is the need for patience. Wherever you may be shopping you can never guarantee or predict what you may find. It can take a lot of time and energy to find that perfect item and sometimes you do just have to walk away empty handed. Not everyone is cut out for it or can be bothered to sieve through (what is essentially) other peoples junk! But if you have the determination and patience I am sure over time you will be rewarded with awesome bargains and a great sense of satisfaction! 

Happy Shopping!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

June Charity Shop finds

I can't resist sharing my recent amazing charity shop finds. I am so pleased with this table runner and quilt, they are beautiful! I have a huge weakness for charity shops. I love the thrill of finding a bargain and giving a new home to unwanted items. By shopping in charity shops i can buy things that would be out of my league if they had been new; my daughter would certainly not be wearing beautiful Joules cardigans and pretty White Company t-shirts if they weren't second hand! I also love the quality you often find with older furniture and vintage household items. Frequently you can find things that are the same price if not cheaper than the basic Ikea or supermarket equivalent. Don't get me wrong i buy stuff from Ikea and supermarkets all the time the convenience and cheapness of it is great but i do often regret my impulse purchases as they so often don't stand the test of time. My charity shop finds however often become treasured heirlooms and favourite possessions.

& a Ralph Lauren hoodie for Martha £2! bargain