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!)