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Monthly Archives: August 2013
  • Posted on August 20, 2013

    Mid-week Chat With Elyse Major

    Today we are thrilled to be joined by Elyse Major, blogger, author and all-round craft enthusiast, we meet the lady behind Tinkered Treasures.

    1.     Your new book is called Tinkered Treasures, could you explain a little bit about the title and what we can expect from the book.

    The title, which sprang from my blog, is rooted in my having a bit of fun with alliteration but also conveys the idea that my style of crafting isn’t complicated; most projects begin and end with my fiddling and layering. Readers can expect to find lovely projects that are accomplished by barely skimming instructions -- but please read the text which is filled with whimsical puns.

    2.  Can you remember the first time you ever ‘tinkered’?  How old were you and what was the end product?

    I suppose I’ve been tinkering my entire life. As a child of the 1970s, I don’t recall having access to a myriad of supplies. You had to create with whatever you could find. I remember making puppets from socks, yarn and buttons, dolls from emptied spools, matchbox homes for tiny acorn “babies,” and guitars from elastic bands and shoe boxes, to name a few.

    3.  What is your workspace like? Can you describe it to us?

    My workspace, which is dubbed The Girlie Office, is a cheerful room with pale yellow walls, accented in pale pink and aqua. Very much the colors used throughout the book. It’s a pretty space but not as functional as it should be and currently it’s more of a craft storage room and place to read. When I really need to spread-out and make things, I head over to the dining room table.

    4.  Sometimes things can go a little wrong, have you ever had a craft disaster?

    Maybe not a “craft disaster” but there are always projects that don’t execute the way they may have been initially envisioned. This is where tinkering comes into play – just keep playing until you have something you like. Layers can do wonders.

    5.   If you had to pick one, what is your favourite project from the book?

    To see my simple Treasure Box (made from popsicle sticks) professionally styled and photographed so beautifully tickles me beyond words. I have a special fondness for early projects such as the tinkered cans, decorated matchboxes and clothespins dolls. My very favourite could be the Mint-tin Shadow Box.

    6.  If you had to sum up your craft style in three words, what would those three words be and why?

    Simple because projects are easy-peasy
    Pretty because I gather and use supplies that I find truly lovely
    Adaptable because with simple switches in materials, all projects can become vastly different from those pictured in the book. For example, imagine matchboxes wrapped using maps or comic books instead of floral papers, or cans and clothespins painted using darker tones. This book can be used as a guidebook and springboard for any preference. I have a friend who uses my book to get ideas for Boy Scouts crafts.

    7. When did you first start blogging?  Tell us about your blog and how you made the transition from blogger to author?

    I began my blog nearly five years ago (28 August 2008) on the day my youngest son started school. I barely knew about blogging but was embarking on DIY home projects and wished to chronicle them in a sort of visual diary. The process of sharing online and being inspired and cheered on by others reignited all sorts of dormant interests, especially writing and making. I became a voracious reader of décor magazines and related blogs and soon began submitting articles and craft tutorials. Before long I was published and once I had gathered a strong set of projects, felt ready to develop a book proposal. Read more about this here: http://tinkeredtreasures.blogspot.com/2012/03/wishing-out-loud-book-news.html)

    8.  How does it feel to be a first time author, any other books in the pipe line?

    It feels brilliant! I am so very happy to be an author and especially a CICO Books author because I am such an admirer of the beautiful books they produce, including my own! I am so proud to let you know that another book is in the pipeline and scheduled for release in Spring of 2014. From the contact sheets I can divulge that it will be BEAUTIFUL!

    9.  Have you any advise for people who are interested in crafting but who have never tried it before?

    I believe that crafting is playing and for me that means it should be uncomplicated and fun. If I need to struggle and become frustrated to make something, then it is not for me (file under: Why I fear sewing). Find a craft that is pleasurable to do and rewarding to behold once completed.

    10.  Iris Murdoch said: “one of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats”.  Give us an example of a small treat you have created which has made you happy, or someone else happy, or both!

    The first time I saw that quote at the blog Bluebird Notes, it spoke to me and became a personal motto. Many of the projects in Tinkered Treasures are small treats and are as lovely as they are inexpensive which means you can create many to enjoy and give as “small treats” for friends. There’s nothing better than brightening someone’s day by leaving a little matchbox on their keyboard or mailing a bookmark along with a greeting.

    Thank you very much for joining us, Elyse.  It has been lovely to chat with you!  If you would like to try out some tinkering of your own, Tinkered Treasures is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Interviews, Interviews, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with Elyse Major, tinkered treasures

  • Posted on August 16, 2013

    School's Out!

    Week four of the school holidays and time might be starting to drag, as it seems a different source of entertainment needs to be plucked from thin air with each passing day!  Here at RPS and CICO books we have ideas galore (check out the ideas books as well) to get you and the kids through the last two weeks of the holidays!

    A Perfect Day For a Picnic

    How does a teddy bear picnic sound? Or a seaside snack? Take advantage of the gorgeous weather with a picnic of home-made sausage and squished tomato rolls. Turn the preparation itself into an activity by encouraging your children to join in, or whip up a feast and invite all your family and friends. Just don’t forget to invite Teddy!

    Craft It Up Around the World

    If you’re stuck inside during the holidays, try making these wonderful butterfly fridge magnets – or even if it’s still sunny, make them out in the garden and pop them on the fridge to keep the essence of summer alive all year round!

    You will need:

    • Florists’ wire
    • 2 wooden dolly clothespins
    • Glue
    • Acrylic paints of your color choice
    • Paintbrush
    • Black permanent marker
    • Coffee filter papers (large and small)
    • Paper towel
    • Food coloring
    • Magnet

    1. Cut a length of florists’ wire in half and wrap it once around the neck of a dolly clothespin. Twist it, and secure it with a small dab of glue to the back of the clothespin.

    2. Paint your clothespins. Be sure to paint in between the clothespin legs because the bottom part will remain visible. Allow the paint to dry and then, using a permanent black pen, mark in facial details such as eyes and mouth.

    3. Use an extra dolly clothespin to curl the florists’ wire you have attached to the first two clothespins to make butterfly antenna shapes.

    4. Take two coffee filters and on one draw a large wing and on the other draw a smaller wing of the same design. Cut them out leaving the bottom join of the coffee filter paper intact.

    5. Put your filter papers on the paper towel and place drops of food coloring onto the opened papers. Keep the design symmetrical by doing the same to both sides. Repeat the process for your smaller butterfly wings.

    6. When the colored papers are dry, place the wings together and push them up between the clothespin legs. Glue a magnet on the back of the clothespin.







    This post was posted in News, UK, What's new and was tagged with school holidays, Libby Abadee, craft it up

  • Posted on August 16, 2013

    What do you need to go with the perfect picnic?

     We’ve just published a new edition of Home-made Vintage by Christina Strutt of Cabbages & Roses. The book features over 40 quick and easy sewing projects.

    Here’s a cutlery roll project from the book which is perfect for summertime picnics so over to Christina…

    This is such a handy thing to have at-the-ready in the picnic basket.

    I always used to forget to pack essential things for picnics until I learned that by far the easiest way to avoid this is to have the picnic basket packed and ready to go with only the food to remember.

    As well as cutlery (which is very neat and nifty in this tie-up roll), I leave salt, pepper, a carving knife, napkins, picnic glasses, plates, a corkscrew, and rubbish bags stored in the picnic hamper.

    This means that when the sun shines unexpectedly on the weekend, I can just add picnic food and be on my way.

    I made this cutlery roll out of a pretty checked dish towel. A towel comes ready hemmed and is the perfect size for this project.

    However, if you wished, you could make one from fabric with napkins to match.


    you will need:

    A gingham tea towel

    11⁄4 yds. (1.2m) of 3⁄4-in. (2-cm) wide cotton tape

    Sewing machine

    Matching thread

    Tape measure


    1 Fold over and pin a 5 in. (12.5cm) hem to the wrong side along one short end of the tea towel. Machine stitch the hem in place down both side edges and across the top.



    2 Fold the opposite short end 6 in. (15cm) to the wrong side and pin the hem in place. Cut the cotton tape in half and insert one end of each piece into the sides of the hem close to the top edge. Machine stitch the sides of the hem in place, sandwiching the ties in place at the same time.


    3 Using pins, mark the positions of the cutlery pockets on the top edge of the loose hem, spacing them approximately 11⁄2 in. (4cm) apart. Machine stitch vertical lines down the hem at each pin position to form the pockets.

    Insert the cutlery, fold over the top hem, roll up, and tie together with the cotton tapes.

    Home-made Vintage by Christina Stutt is published by CICO Books.

    Photography by Lucinda Symons




    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, handmade, fabric, picnic, summer holidays

  • Posted on August 7, 2013

    Helen Graves nominated in the Young British Foodie awards!

    Helen Graves author of the soon-to-be published 101 Sandwiches has been shortlisted for the food writing category for this year’s YBFs. The category is looking for a new voice in food who has a real talent for food writing. The other nominees were Sam Muston from The Independent and Miss South from North South Food.

    If you haven’t heard of these awards before, The YBFs were founded in 2012 by Chloe Scott, the highly respected food editor at Metro, Amy Thorne of Taste PR & Lily Vanilli, the baker (and author of a number of books including A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, published by CICO).

    According to their website, the YBFs are ‘the people putting food and drink back at the heart of our communities… the men and women using lost arts and new skills to bring craft back to the kitchen.’ The YBFs Foundation was created to promote grassroots talent in the annual awards.

    Helen’s book, 101 Sandwiches

    Find more books by Helen in the books for cooks section of our site.









































    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, 101 sandwiches, Helen Graves, Chloe Scott

  • Posted on August 7, 2013

    Mid-week Chat With Laura Emerson!

    With names like North West, Rocket Man and even George hitting the headlines recently,  a discussion about names is most certainly in order!  Laura Emerson, author of Baby Names and all-round name enthusiast joins us for a chat.


    1. Hi Laura, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. What can you tell us about the name that Kate and William have chosen?
    I do love their choice. George is a very English name with a rich royal heritage. It’s also well-favoured in the UK already, and was recently the #12 name in England and Wales. There will be many more little ones born this year to be named after the prince, so I imagine George will see even more popularity. His middle names, Alexander and Louis, are classic and kingly as well.
    1. What name would you have chosen if you were tasked with naming the future king of England?
    I do think George is pretty well fitting, but my second choice would be Arthur. Both names are perfect for an English king.
    1. How does George Alexander Louis compare to some of the more outlandish celebrity baby names announced recently? Why do you think unusual names are so popular with the rich and famous?
    Some celebrity baby names recently catching attention include North West, daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and Rocket Man, son of Pharrell Williams. Certainly compared to monikers like these, George is a grounded name that speaks to the role he will have in life, as well as his parents’ good taste. Naming a prince is a serious undertaking, and Kate and William handled it quite well! I think some of the baby names coming from Hollywood are the result of the stars choosing a name that is so unique it feels like a brand. Perhaps they are hoping their child will one day have an easier time in the spotlight if they have a standout name that gives them a platform for their career. Or, it could always be a matter of eccentric taste!
    1. What the first thing that runs through your mind when someone tells you what they’ve named their baby?
    I love learning about names. When I hear a baby’s name, I think of the style, how popular it is, and sometimes the meaning. I love hearing about how the parents chose the name, because every name is special and has a story behind it.
    1. What are your personal favourite baby names?
    This is so tough, because I can see the merit in almost any name! My favourites do change from time to time, but right now I like Adelaide, Wynne, Elizabeth, Cambria, and Violet for girls. For boys I like Liam, Asher, Mason, Dominic, and Oliver.
    1. By the time you came to name your first child you must have been drowning in choices! How did you decide?
    It was tough! First, we waited until we knew the gender to delve into names—that was helpful in eliminating half our choices! Then, my husband and I followed my parent’s lead. We each went through my name book, making a list of our favourites separately. Then we noted which names were on both of the lists, and came up with our top 10 or so. From there it was a matter of which name felt right.
    1. What got you so interested in names originally? Have you always had an interest in them?
    Since I was a kid, I’ve loved looking at name books and talking about names with my friends. And as an adult, browsing through a name book was my idea of a way to unwind. I started researching and writing about names as a hobby about six years ago.
    1. Which baby names do you think are growing in popularity and why? What are the current trends?
    There are so many different trends happening right now, but I’d say one of the most popular is old-fashioned names that were used more often in the 1800s and early 1900s and are making a comeback. A few of those names include Cora, Lucy, Eloise, Hazel, Eleanor, and Ruby for the girls; or Silas, Henry, Ezra, Isaac, August, and Felix for the boys.
    1. How did you go about writing your book? Where did you start and what was your routine like?
    I knew that I wanted to create a book that I’d love to look through. For me, that meant starting with including every name in the top 1,000 for both the UK and the US. If I didn’t have those it wouldn’t have felt very up-to-date. My routine meant spending every free second I had on researching and writing the book. Many evenings and weekends were devoted to it!
    1. Why do you think your book will be particularly helpful with parents-to-be stuck for names?

    Choosing a name should be a fun process, not a research project! I’m so glad that Baby Names has a beautiful full-color layout. It doesn’t look like a dictionary, and it contains a few anecdotes on many of the names, as well as themed lists. The names are fresh and relevant, and include all sorts of styles. I truly hope that parents love using this book to pick their baby’s name!

    Baby Names by Laura Emerson is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £9.99

    We love baby related books and early learning too - here's some of our current list that makes us go ga ga!




    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new

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