Ladybird Books are Rubbish!

Instagram can be a wonderful thing! As you know my business is all about recycling and reducing waste. So when I saw on Instagram last month, that Linzi Loves Books was throwing away some of her Ladybird Book collection – I was quick to ask if I could have her old covers.

A little note from Linzi with many wonderful covers which so many of us would have read when we were little

I’ve been following Linzi for some time on IG and she has thousands of Ladybird Books in her collection now, so much so she can afford to get rid of doubles, and the ones that are so damaged they’re not worth anything. (To collectors at least…)

She had removed the original papers from the books to use for paper crafts but the covers were destined for the bin. She didn’t know if I would be able to save any, but we both thought it was worth a try, so I paid the postage and she kindly sent them over.

Amazingly there were very few that I had to get rid of. The rest, although well loved, will make fantastic notebooks and are available to buy from my online shop, now.

Some of them needed a bit more love than others. For example this Little Red Hen book had an unfortunate sticker on the front cover (often the cause of damage for old ladybird books – charity shops are a nightmare!) however I was overjoyed at successfully removing it!

Before…
After… it is the same book, promise!

Let’s face it, we all love Ladybird Books and I think Lawrence Zeegan, author of Ladybird by Design, explains it perfectly: “A Ladybird book evokes strong feelings; deep-rooted memories of a time and a place when a simply designed and cheaply produced book could resonate across generations of readers.”

These books have passed through many generations, and it’s a lovely thought to know they can get a new lease of life as a notebook. As they are a little extra worn and don’t have their original pages, they are just £4 each. (Instead of £6) I have also added a drop down menu on the shop listing if you would like to add metal book corners for an additional £1.

Here’s one I made earlier…

They can be purchased with any of the upgrades from my shop; so they could come with lines, or as an address book, a diary etc.. just add the upgrade to your basket before you checkout.

There are so many things you can make with vintage book paper…

And if you fancy a bit of recycling yourself, you can purchase bundles of leftover paper from my notebooks to make all sorts of wonderful things. I hope to show you some craft ideas in future blogs -watch this space!

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My 5 favourite children’s books

I am sure that we all have at least one book from our childhood that we have fond memories of, and the wonderful thing about children’s books is that they can be enjoyed by all ages.

As I work with children’s books everyday I wanted to share with you some of my favourites. 

1. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl 

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It is probably of no surprise that Roald Dahl was going to feature in my top 5, and rightly so. Roald Dahl was an amazing author. I have fond memories of reading this book at Chigwell Row School. I think I must have been 8 years old. I was totally gripped by the story. I was fascinated about Danny driving his dad’s car and catching pheasants with raisins!

2. Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel – ‘The Journey’

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This is a short story about a mouse that wanted to visit his mother, so he bought a car and drove it until it broke, so then he bought some roller skates and rolled as far as he could until the wheels fell off. He then buys boots, some trainers and eventually has to walk barefoot until his feet are too sore – so he buys some new feet! As you can imagine at the age of 6 or 7 I found this hilarious! Considering it was written in the Psychadelic Era (1972) it makes perfect sense! 

3. The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was None of his Business by Werner Holzwarth / Wolf Erlbruch

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I first came across this book whilst on holiday in the Lake District, only a few years ago, despite it being first published in 1989. Basically a mole pokes his head out of the ground and a poo lands on top of his head! So he then asks a lot of animals if they were the culprits, each of them then giving the mole a sample to show they were not to blame! Eventually he realises it was a dog and gets his own back! This book had me in tears of laughter in what was, a very quiet book shop!

4. A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton

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This comes in a gorgeous board version and I just adore Chris’ artwork. In my previous job running a museum, this book featured in one of my lesson plans for my monthly toddler groups. A baby owl falls out of a tree and starts to look for his mummy. A similar format to the mole story, a friendly but not very clever squirrel tries to help the baby owl by introducing him to a variety of woodland animals until he eventually does find his mummy, all thanks to a frog.

5. ‘Well-Loved Tales’ Sleeping Beauty retold by Vera Southgate 

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In particular this 1970s version illustrated by Eric Winter. There is one picture in this book that stuck in my memory and it’s not because it’s beautiful, far from it! Although I should add that the illustrations are absolutely amazing, the detail is something else! 

Anyway, on page 31 there is a picture of a prince trying to make his way through the rose thorns and in his failed attempt, is covered in cuts and is bleeding. I don’t know why I remembered this picture so vividly but all I can think of it must have been quite a shock to see such a graphic image (with blood) in a children’s book. 

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Nevertheless I love a fairytale and I do remember recreating this as a play in the reading room at my infant school and also mum making me a Sleeping Beauty birthday cake, so Princess Aurora was clearly my favourite!

I thoroughly recommend re-reading your favourite children’s books – it has bought back such happy memories for me, and I’ve had a good laugh too!

2019 – a 6 month review of achievements!

As we near the end of June I thought I’d take time to reflect on what I’ve achieved these last six months.

New Years resolutions aren’t for everyone but this year, I set some! I like having goals whether it’s for work or personal, but I’ve never actually written any down and then gone back to check if I have achieved them! Until now…

My list (any excuse for a list!) was:

📝 Get my head around twitter
📝 Visit somewhere new
📝 Fund-raise for charity
📝 Reach my Slimming World target weight
📝 Do some yoga
📝 Learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube!

So how have I done…

Twitter – I’m trying! But I’m not finding it easy. I have actually found it easier to learn how to use it through my personal twitter account. Being a small business and a handcrafted one at that, it’s not easy to find time to be on so many social media platforms. Instagram and Facebook are my most successful and favourite ones to use.

I have managed to get my head around the conversation threads on twitter though and it has been quite helpful for meeting like minded people on a personal level.

Visit somewhere new – not yet, but we plan to have a break later in the year to the Peak District – I’ve never been before but it looks beautiful and so dog friendly – the boys will love it! Any recommendations of where to stay / visit do let me know!

Fundraising – I managed to successfully get myself in the local newspaper for fundraising for the MS Trust, and raise money for them! By selling limited edition notebooks, £5 of every sale is donated to the MS Trust. So far over £200 has been raised – there are still some copies left so for more details and to buy a notebook please head to my online shop here.

Reach my Slimming World target – yeah that hasn’t happened yet… I got my SW food diary out though and I have lost 3.5lbs so only 10.5 lbs to go!

Do some Yoga – this is funny because I nearly ended up doing Yoga on TV! I was interviewed by Sky News for MS awareness week – the focus being on how exercise and being active can help benefit your health when you have MS. Just before they arrived they asked if I could do some yoga in the park. My immediate thought was of me with my bum up in the air on telly! I couldn’t do it. So instead me and Bert were filmed having a walk. My interview was heavily edited so everything I said about exercise was cut out and they went with the marathon runner’s more interesting story!

I did want to go to a Yoga class but finding time is hard! I have also bought a Pilates DVD to try at home, but I’ve only got as far as the introduction at the moment! Ha!

Solve a Rubik’s cube – yeah I’ve not done that yet, I have managed to make one whole side completely white, so that’s a start… There are loads of tutorials on YouTube – I just need to find time to sit down and watch them!

I have of course achieved more than this – because some stuff you never plan…

Like receiving Highly Commended for our entry to the Women’s Institute photography competition, coming runner-up in The Brentwood Belles WI Challenge Cup, and being part of the wonderful Brentwood Art Trail – exhibiting my crochet items in a yarn bomb and running my new pom pom workshop!

I’ve also started regularly litter picking and recycling my crisp packets with Walkers Crisps, as well as finding other ways to reduce plastic waste – there’s lots to say about that which I will save for a new blog post.

So 2019 has been a pretty successful year so far but that’s not to say it hasn’t been challenging. We’ve had our fair share of family health issues and worries. I feel like social media has not been on my side, and that makes business harder. And the weather has certainly not been on my husband’s side – he’s an ice cream man!

I only mention this to get across that the last six months have been far from a bed of roses, they have sometimes been very difficult; but I try not to dwell on the negatives, but look at the positives. What I have achieved and of course, what I hope to achieve. Which I do believe means that I need to make another list! 😉

What’s on your list for the rest of 2019?

My first Scrapbook experience…

Back in March I was invited to help our Women’s Institute, The Brentwood Belles, with our entry for the Elizabeth Bell photography competition .

The National Federation of WI invited WI’s across the country to submit a collection of photographs depicting a year in their WI. We were to choose 12 photographs which could be displayed in any way chosen by our WI i.e. calendar, photo book, scrapbook or simply individual, mounted photographs.

We kind of left it to the last minute – but there’s nothing like working under pressure! Our photos were taken by a variety of members and were chosen by our secretary Tricia, to show what us Belles got up to over the last year.

My job was to present the photos. It was decided one of my vintage books would make a great cover and we’d present the photos ‘scrapbook style’. The rest was down to me. It was at this point I had to admit I had never made a scrap book before!

We chose this gorgeous vintage Girls Annual as the ‘Exciting contents’ really summarised our entry. And without realising the 8 also proved significant as 2018 was The Brentwood Belles 8th year!

We submitted our entry and the Essex Federation put us forward for National Judging! I was thrilled it got through, I certainly didn’t expect anything more. However amazingly out of the 135 entries submitted nationally, we were awarded highly commended and came joint fourth! The book was then displayed in Brighton for all to see at the NFWI AGM. I’m so proud of this achievement.

I thought I’d share the details behind each page…

The official blurb was written by Tricia Dyke, our secretary. My intention was to print directly on the card page but unfortunately it was too thick to go through my printer. So I printed on paper and used my Fiskars Tear Edger to give the torn effect.

This was my favourite of all the pages. We did ‘Strollersizing’ – exercising to Rock and Roll music! So I used an actual old record and cut it square – a Stanley knife cut this fairly easily. I used a shoe punch to create the dancing feet, some old music paper and vintage gift ribbon all coordinating in simple black and white.

A vintage map and an old postcard gave a bright backdrop for this photo of Prague. The stamp was made using a stamp punch. Throughout the book we added captions using a Dymo label maker.

This was the hardest of all the photos – it wasn’t a particularly great photo, but it has huge importance as we are big supporters of the local women’s refuge and every year donate Easter Eggs for the children, so with some thought I cut the photo up to ke s ack of eggs, and decorated a printed truck image with some glitter tape. The sign is made from the ice lolly I was eating at the time!

The bunting was made from an old Cath Kidston leaflet, left over twine from notebook packaging, an old doiley, piece of cloth and some polka dot wallpaper.

I really wanted to cater for all the senses so this page got a good spray of perfume – I made the perfume bottle using my Cricut. I used a clear piece of plastic to make a window and filled the bottle with clear and heart sequins that moved!

A map of Brentwood seemed perfect for our Walking Group photo – and the foot print stamp came in handy again!

That’s me pulling the face whilst yarn bombing this tree! I was so pleased to finally use this piece of knitting for the tree trunk – it was a little sample I made whilst on a learn to knit workshop – and as you do, I kept it, for ‘just in case’. 8 years later, I finally found a use for it!

I saw the idea for the cotton reels on pinterest, but to emphasise the ‘Sewing’ Group, I stitched the photo to the book. I made all the holes first using a card embroidery poker and foam mat, before threading with twine. The twine are all sample of twine I get sent when I buy the twine for my notebooks, so again a great way to re-use. The buttons were just cute…

This wasn’t really a very good photo, it’s poorly lit and out of focus but when it was taken no one knew it was going to be entered for a competition! However we wanted to include our darts team so I printed the dartboard and used coloured pencils to add some colour. The dart was made using silver vinyl cut on my Cricut and the flight was made using three heart shapes cut with a punch, folded in half and stuck together, from the paper from the original Girl Annual.

Again, I put some of the original book back by making an origami star. The back drop is cellophane glued in with Pritt stick – it dries clear.

Our final photo was of our wonderful President, Jane and I at our Retro Christmas Party! Here the 90’s met the 70’s so I tried to add that in the background with some 90s sparkle and some original vintage Christmas wrapping paper that I found in my nan’s house when when we cleared it out.

Finally I had to include this original article from the annual about photography – it was a photography competition after all!

It has definitely made me want to continue scrapbooking – if you haven’t tried it and don’t know where to start my tips are:

  1. Having a ‘subject’ for the book allows you to focus.
  2. Set a number of pages – don’t have too many. 12 worked well here.
  3. Draw ideas and plan loosely – but be prepared to change it and don’t be frightened to introduce new ideas.
  4. Anything goes – look around your paper / old cards and magazines / haberdashery stash. Mix materials and textures and try to excite all the senses if you can.
  5. Use a strong paper / card pages to support all the things you are sticking on!

Happy Scrapbooking!

Becky x

Finding one’s marbles…

Last Sunday I took part in a marbling workshop at the Baytree Shopping Centre in Brentwood. Amazingly, it was a FREE workshop provided by the Brentwood Art Trail.

The last time I tried marbling was when I was at school. We did it A LOT! So much so it wasn’t hard to find some that I did when I was 7 years old…

It’s not about the dragon…

My love for old books means you often find marbled paper inside them, or on the page edge. And when I did a book binding course a few years ago at the Essex Record Office, we got to work with some beautiful marbled paper as you can see here.

I loved using this marbled paper to make my notebook.

The workshop didn’t disappoint. Run by Julie (@ladyvermillion on IG) she showed us some of the examples she had made and briefly explained what we needed to do.

The equipment is simple so you can easily have a go yourself at home. You just need a washing up bowl or tray of water, some nail varnish and some things to marble.

This is a brilliant way of using up old nail varnishes – I know I’ve got some stored away – random colours that seemed like a good idea at the time! All you have to do is pour the nail varnish onto the water surface – that’s the important bit, getting it on the surface, not dropping to the bottom of the bowl. I found the easiest way to do it was to pour close to the surface rather than at a height and to wave the bottle friskly!

It can get messy so gloves, apron and newspaper are a good idea!

It was very much a case of trial and error. Waiting for the paint to disperse definitely gave a more ‘natural’ marbled look, but, left too long and it would set on the water and not adhere as well. (Some peeled off my paper)

The concentration….

More paint gave brighter images, I tried some swirling with a wooden stick to create some patterns, but again speed was the key, if I wasn’t quick enough I found myself collecting the paint onto the stick.

However the stick method was handy for cleaning the water surface when you wanted to change colours. You could just push the excess paint to the side of the bowl and start a fresh, no need to change the water each time.

I mostly marbled on watercolour paper as I liked the texture – but being absorbent it did take longer to dry! I also marbled a glass jar which dried really quickly, it’s now a pen pot!

We were each given a notebook and the idea was to make a bookmark from our marbled paper at the workshop but we ran out of time with the drying so I waited until I got home to decorate my notebook and used the left over paper to make my bookmark.

I really like the swirls on the bookmark.

I left feeling eager to marble more! Although I love the idea of using up old nail varnishes, I think using a marble kit may be better for creating the papers that I would like. I was going to say they’d probably be more predictable but I don’t think marbling can ever be predictable and that’s the whole point, you never know what you’re going to create!

Some of my other work made from the workshop

If you’ve thought about marbling, I hope that maybe you might like to give it a go now. It’s so simple, and if you’re after inspiration on things to marble, just have a look on Pinterest! And if you make anything – I’d love to see it so please share and tag me in!

Car Boot Sales – my top 10 tips!

Car boot season is now in full swing – the perfect opportunity to grab a bargain but sometimes it can be a bit stressful and disappointing… a little preparation can help! If you’re heading to a booty this weekend, you might find these tips helpful!

Me , Bert and my trusty trolley at Dunton Car Boot Sale

1. Know where you are going! Check the address the evening before. Check the weather forecast and also see if the boot sale has it’s own facebook page which you can check for updates, just in case the car boot gets cancelled.

2. The earlier the better in my opinion. Yes, the later you go, you’ll be more likely to get something cheaper than it was two hours earlier; but you’ll have missed out on all the good stuff! I like to arrive no later than 7am.

3. Things I like to bring:

  • A trolley
  • Some carrier bags
  • Pair of gloves – it can be cold first thing! (And prevents the trolley hurting my hand!)
  • Travel Cup filled with coffee
  • Breakfast bars
  • Bags of coins (20ps, 50ps and £1s) as well as some notes
  • A small messenger bag – to keep everything safe where I can see it!
  • The dogs – multi-tasking!
  • A friend – for company and an extra set of eyes! And hands…

4. Wear layers! It might be forecast warm weather but if you’re starting out early it is certain to be nippy! Get all your clothes ready the night before so you can just pop them on the next morning. And then as it warms up, strip accordingly!

Waterproof footwear is also a good idea. No one likes to walk around in damp trainers from the early morning dewy grass! I have a sturdy pair of boots which are perfect for gravel surfaces too.

Don’t worry about being fashion conscious, in fact the worse you look the more likely you are to grab a bargain – the sellers may take pity on you!

5. Don’t forget to SMELL the item you want to buy! Avoid buying something that smells of smoke or damp. Being outdoors, if you’ve not given it a proper sniff before you buy it, it won’t be until you get back in the car that you realise you’ve bought something that pongs – and at that point it’s too late to take it back. You might want to be discrete though to avoid offending the stall holder and looking like a right weirdo.

Make sure whatever you’re buying, that it smells okay!

6. Taking your own food and drink will save you spending £5 on a burger at 8am! You can be at a boot sale for a good few hours if it’s a good size, so you’re bound to get hungry – but don’t waste your money on over-priced food – it defeats the object of looking for a bargain!

I fill a travel cup with coffee and take some breakfast bars which are filling and easy to pop in your pocket.

7. Remember where you parked the car! Don’t rely on the cars parked near you or at the end of the aisle – they’re likely to have gone by the time you get back! Look for bigger fixtures such as a burger van / toilets / flags.

8. Look up! It’s so easy to look down at table / floor level, and forget to look a little higher – often people pop bits for sale on top of their cars if they’ve run out of space.

9. Don’t carry something that is too heavy! (So easily done) Ask if they can help you carry it to the car, or pay for it and then arrange to collect it later.

And once your hands and bags are full, do head back to the car to off-load and then you can start again!

10. Before you ask for the price, know in your head what you are happy to pay for it. If it’s too much, then don’t be frightened to offer a price you would like to pay. If they say no, thank them and walk away. They may come back with a counter-offer, or if you return later and it’s still there, they may be more likely to offer you a better price. And if you missed out, then it wasn’t meant to be. (This is what I tell myself to make myself feel better!)

Do let me know if you found this useful, (I hope you did!) and do share your best boot sale buys with me , because I’m nosey!

Becky x

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

From April 22nd until April 29th it was Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness week. To help raise awareness and £500 for the MS Trust, I made some limited edition notebooks!

Balancing – all part of having MS!

This is really important to me as I was diagnosed with MS in 2009, a year after temporarily losing the sight in one eye.

When I was diagnosed, I’d had heard of MS but I didn’t actually know what it was. I was adamant not to ‘Google’ it, so I turned to the MS Trust. They provided me with free leaflets and a newsletter which gave me the help and support I needed, and still need today.

I was given a large number of old books which were going to be thrown away, and I thought that although the covers would plain compared to my normal style, their covers would still make beautiful, sophisticated notebooks. 

I wanted to give something back, so I contacted the MS Trust to see if they would support my fundraising idea. I can’t run a marathon, or do a sponsored silence (I talk too much!) but I know how to make a notebook.

The notebooks, are £10 each and come in a variety of bright colours, each containing a different anecdote from my 10-year experience with MS. £5 from the sale of each notebook will be donated to the MS Trust.

I want to raise awareness of MS because some people are afraid to ask what MS is, what it does, can it be cured, etc … or they make the wrong assumptions about you, and the disease. People tell me how positive I am about having MS, so I just wanted to help reassure people and break some of those boundaries.

MS is a disease which affects the nervous system. Almost three times as many women are diagnosed with MS than men, and in the UK approx. 110,000 people have MS.

My notebooks have already raised over £200 and are still available to purchase online now whilst stock lasts, I really appreciate your support! Thank you.

Becky x