car batteries and shoes.

If there was a soundtrack for this post it would be Destiny child’s Independent Women.  In fact I even tried to attach it but I couldn’t work it out.  Instead I’m listening to it as I write.  If you have it in itunes play it…….now.

As I dance like an old granny trying to be cool cut some shapes in my chair I’m feeling like an independent woman.  Well kind of.

I don’t know if I’m the only wife that is  qite happy for The Husband to look after various reponsibilities and leave him to it, is that normal? I’m really not sure.  There are some things people just don’t compare notes with each other so as far as I know every other woman knows all the details of every domestic task.  One of these tasks is breakdown service.  The Husband knows all the details, renews it and changes it when appropriate.  He also puts the bins out.  And he’s quite partial to dusting.  Just don’t tell him I told you that.

So The Husband went away on monday for a leadership conference in Harrogate.  Three days and two nights.  Since My back got hurt I’ve not had sole responsibility for the home and the girls so I was relieved that my pain has improved these past two weeks and I’m back behind the wheel.  Although I havn’t done nearly as much as I normally would have, and I’ve had loads of help from the in-laws, I’m so pleased I’ve managed to keep the girls alive and keep myself sane.

But on Tuesday when the car battery died I didn’t have a clue what to do.  My mum-in-law came to pick me and Roo up but I knew I needed to do something about the battery at some point.  Although I needed to call The Husband to check on our policy number, I managed to find our cover paperwork and arrange to have someone come jump start the car.  It started fine but if it hadn’t I was all ready to get up to Fleetwood to have a new battery fitted.

I know that this seems ridiculous to some but for seven months I’ve not had any independence at all.  I’ve been very much dependent on my family and the grace of the church leadership team (to allow me do a load of my planning work from my bed!).  It has become ‘normal’ to need people to do for me what I’d ordinarily do myself.  For men that would emasculate them, so what does it do for women?  This whole ordeal has stripped away a lot of confidence in what I ‘do’.  It’s humiliating as a mum not being able to empty your own dish washer or pick your children up from school because the walk from the car is too far.  I think its in our DNA to want to be needed and be useful.  So when I sorted out the car it brought back a little of the lost confidence. It was just so good to do something normal.  The breakdown guy said I’d need to take the car out for a run so I grabbed my purse and a list that I’d stuck on the fridge) and drove into Cleveleys, something I’ve wanted to do by myself for a long time.  Being a mum everything always seems to be rushed so it was a luxury taking my time.  I had to walk past New Look, and I couldn’t resist not having a quick look in there.

Then I saw them.  It was as if time stood still and nothing else existed in the world but them and I…

Is it possible to be in love with a pair of shoes? I didn’t buy them but I know that one day we will meet again and they will find their home at the bottom of my wardrobe.

Yes, yesterday was definitely a day of progress.  I had felt a little bit useful sorting out the car, I had a mosey around Cleveleys, and I went to pick Ruby up from school.  I felt normal again.  Or as normal as I could possibly get.


Faking it.

Its that time of year. Time to get the legs out. In fact that time of year sneaked up on me (am I the only one?) and I was very unprepared. With having a bad back, let just say I have struggled to maintain smooth legs.  The husband took every opportunity to make fun of this. But my vanity overrode my (very limited) wisdom and stretched this way and that to sort that situation out. With Rob’s razor. That’ll teach him.

I think I’m possibly getting more vain as I grow older and I didn’t think that would be so. I blame a certain woman (who will remain nameless) cough-BeckyFrance-cough cough who lured me into having a spray tan with her a couple of years ago and in all honesty it made me feel…totally…wonderful. I would just sit and admire my arms. But visiting the salon every week is out of the question. With my two little lovebugs there’s not much chance of lying in the sun to soak up a suntan either so there’s only one other option: Fake tan.

With fake tan, my whole brain screams out to me to buy the ‘good’ stuff. We all know the brands. But there was an impulse buy on Thursday. The purchase process went something like this:

Sunny morning…Weather man says we’re in for a very warm week…by lunchtime I’m sweltering in my jeans…pop in to Home Bargains to get some rabbit food and I walk past some fake tan…brain working very fast…contemplate trying to pull on and squeeze into my shorts that are lurking somewhere at the bottom of my drawer…cheap fake tan is  dropped into my trolley.

Not being someone who has ever really looked after herself I’m vaguely familiar with the idea of exfoliation. Generally  this isn’t a step in one’s beauty regime that mums of young children get to experience. Sometimes it’s a result to wash your hair, and you feel pampered if you can wash your hair and shave your legs. But when I was rubbing this very dark looking mousse into my legs I wondered if it really made a difference.  I thought I’d live a bit try it out.  And not being one to go down the simple route I was intrigued by home-made body scrubs on pinterest.  They look pretty simple and quick to whip up and seem to either have a sugar base or a salt base.  There were a couple though that managed to out their own spin on it.

Carlee over at Deliciously Organised explains how to make a summery Orange and Coconut Scrub

Image credit to Deliciously organised.


I love how Rachel from Maybe Matilda has made her home made body scrubsinto gifts for mums-to-be.  I’m all for pampering a pregnant mamma!

Image credit  to Maybe Matilda.

There were loads more but I just couldn’t celebrate creative divas without acknowledging the ultimate domestic guru Martha Stewart.  I only discovered her a couple months ago.  In a non-idol-creating way – where has she been all my life?!?!  Amongst a gazillion other home-made ideas she has a video of making an exfoliating scrub.

Right, I’m gonna go make me some body scrub!

It worked for me: Chalk Board.

As soon as I  bought some chalk board paint I was desperate to try and make my own vintage-y distressed chalk board.  It has a been a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge learning curve, and I think I now know a little more about how the stuff works.  My original vision for the chalk is completely different from what I ended up with but I’m ok with that.

Most of my projects have been off the cuff, requiring a lot of winging it.  But this one, ironically, the one that was a pain in the bum, is the one I looked into.  I read countless times that chalk board is so versatile it will paint onto anything.  Call me a little naive but I took that at face value.

I wanted a really intricate frame, and when I find one I’ll make another chalk board, but all I had at the time was a reasonably plain picture frame.


The glass was actually stuck onto the wooden frame, which was an obstacle in itself.  Had they been separable it would been a matter of painting and distressing the frame and chalk boarding up the glass.  But it wasn’t like that so I had to work with it.

First up I concentrated on the frame and I grabbed my trustee friend:


and a couple sheets of old newspaper (next time I’m at B&Q I’ll be dumping the masking tape for a new best friend that goes by the name of Frogtape.  It’s said to be the king of all tapes when painting anything.  I covered up the glass and sanded the frame down a little.  I did not prime the wood.  That was me being too impatient because I wanted to do it that afternoon and because I wasn’t able to drive then, I couldn’t get out to buy some.  Next time I paint anything I will definitely prime it. From what I’ve read I’m convinced it will improve the overall finish but I’ll let you know after I’ve tried it.


I wanted the frame to be a ‘distressed’ white so I used my enamel spray.  I’m too lazy to get the brushes out and start using a tin of satin wood.  I don’t know what the best medium should have been.  This worked for me.



Easy peasy lemon squeazy.  I sprayed a couple of coats, letting them dry properly in between, until it looked even.


This is the part I was looking forward to.  And it didn’t disappoint.  This chalkboard paint brushed on really nicely.




The story should have ended there my friends.  Well, after sanding and battering the frame a little.  But it kinda went down hill for a while.  MY BIGGEST MISTAKE: Not painting over the glass fully, so when it dried you could still see through little parts of the glass.  No biggie, I thought, I’ll just paint another layer on.  It’s really tricky to explain – apart from to say it did NOT work for me!  I should have taken a picture of the disaster that was my chalk board right then.  The second layer of paint somehow unsettled the bottom layer that was adhering to the glass.  the whole surface of the paint cracked into weird little ‘islands’ that ‘floated’ on top of the glass.  It’s a shame because I had the white frame all nice and distressed


I don’t exactly know how I came about wiping the blackboard paint with a damp cloth, but for some reason I did and all the freaky little ‘islands’ wiped straight off.  Hmmmmmm, I reckoned that maybe I could fix it afterall.  I cleaned the whole thing, and although this wrecked messed up the frame, I was happy to start from scratch.  Waste not, want not and all that.  When the picture frame was cleaned up and dry again I tried again, but this time a different way.

I wanted something that would stick the blackboard paint to the glass so rather than cover it over, I left it exposed when I spray painted the frame  I picked the can up and started spraying only to find that I’d picked up the wrong can of PINK rather than WHITE  Within seconds though I considered the pink and continued with it.  A happy little mistake in the end.

This could have been the end of this project though, had I not liked the pink on the frame the whole think would have been thrown straight into the bin! Morale of the story: ALWAYS CHECK THE CAN BEFORE YOU USE IT!!!

The spray created a light coat of paint on the glass that would hopefully be a more suitable surface for the chalkboard paint.  I made a point of painting it on thick to cover all the glass fully, and when I was done I checked to see if I’d left any gaps.  It dried fine and there was no need to put on a second coat and risk creating those freaky islands.  Phew.

The chalk board was actually a chalk board now, so there were only a few final touches needed.  I roughed up the frame a bit using sand paper and a chisel to make it look ‘distressed’  I read on a lady’s blog that she drags small pieces of furniture along her road from her car to ‘distress’ it.  That made me laugh but I decided against it.  I also wanted some string to hang from one side to the other as a mini ‘clothes line’ for receipts, notes etc.  We (meaning The Husband) screwed in some tiny hooks to anchor down the string.


All done!




It worked for me: Art Gallery

One of the first images I fell in love with on Pinterest was this way of displaying children’s pictures.  I wanted to use different words and make it a little more ‘home made’ but I loved the concept.  so I got thinking and figured it should be pretty straight forward to make my ‘Art Gallery’.

I went over to B&Q and picked out  a batten 3.5 cm wide and 1 cm thick.  I didn’t even know what it was called, I had to google it.  See, DIY can be educational as well as fun…! I don’t remember how long it was but we (meaning The Husband) cut it to 88cm long so it fit nicely above the radiator.  I wanted it white, and thought about using simple White satin wood paint or white enamel spray (for all kinds of surfaces).  I went with the spray because it’s loads easier and quicker. 

The spray paint may well be a ridiculous error.  I totally understand that there’s a proper way to do things.  But as you’ll see a lot in these DIY posts – It worked for me, so I’m ok with cutting corners and making up my own rules.



Those black shiny babies there behind the batten are my previously silver cupboard handles.  But back to the Art Gallery.  I wanted the Gallery to have the option to easily come down so I couldn’t nail it or stick it to the wall in any way.  So I took two of these off an old picture frame.  perfect.


Screwed into the back of the batten and jobs a good’n.  For the front of the the Art Gallery I wanted a bit of sparkle so I took some regular wooden clothes pegs, spread clear glue over the whole surface of one side and sprinkle glitter over.  Tapping off the excess glitter and the pegs were ready to dazzle.




Using my glue gun I glued the razzle dazzle pegs to the batten and the Art Gallery was ready to hang.

I wanted to to Have ‘Art Gallery’ on the wall somehow and my mind went into overdrive to get the creative juices flowing.  As soon as I saw some 3-D cardboard letters in a little craft store I new I was onto something.  I wanted to team them up with some vinyl stickers and I searched and searched for someone who would create a personalised sticker and not charge a bomb.  But I was too impatient and wanted to get the Art Gallery up so gave up on the stickers.  I know I could have found it if I had more time so if you’re looking for something to brighten up a wall there are loads out there.  So instead of the stickers I went all Blue-Peter on the project, printing out letters, cutting them out and sticking ‘em directly on the wall.

And there we have it.  Our Art Gallery.




If you look you can see the ‘Art’ is not centred above the ‘Gallery’.  This is the kind of thing that normally drives me crazy.  I totally have an OCD thing with symmetry.  But this time I’m choosing to be ok with it and embrace imperfection.  And not start twitching whenever I look at it.

You might have spotted a pink chalkboard, which has nothing to do with the Art Gallery, it just happens to be near it.  And this pink chalkboard will be the next ‘It worked for me’ Post.


This is blog post number 250.  250!! 

they’re not all on here at Tutus and trainers.  I started my first blog in February 2009 when Ruby was about six months old.  Then I jumped over to here for a while and then made my home at Tutus and Trainers.

I was just about to write that I’ve sat down in my kitchen 250 times to share my life with the rest of the blogosphere, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve blogged from:

Holy Island, Northumberland (one of my favourite places on earth, if not the favourite)

My parents old house in Sunderland

The cottage in the Yorkshire dales

A hotel lobby in Southport

and of course….


I either write my posts sat cross legged on the sofa or at the kitchen breakfast bench when it was there.  Having pretty much finished the kitchen, I’ll no doubt be spending many hours at our new kitchen table.

Our living room decorating plans have shifted into a different direction.  Again.  I though the plaster had told us it would be £100 to skim the walls but yesterday he said it would be £170.  I believe him over me, he’s not on a whole load of medication.  Although it’s relatively a small difference – 100, 170 but we’re on a very tight budget, so we’re back to sticking down and painting over the existing wallpaper.  I also think we need to go back to Dunelm Mill, told tell The Husband but I’m really not sure about the ones we picked out a couple weeks ago…!

To celebrate my 250th post, I’ve picked out a few posts that have been added to the collection along the way.

My first ever blog post: Cold Coffee and chocolate wrappers

A lot of snow for May


Life Love Laughter 


We’re home from our little break break away. It was long over due and it definitely did the job. My theory is that all grown ups need to unwind and recharge every six months. It keeps the inner child alive. I’m so so cross with myself because I meant to take a load of photos of Pud and Judy’s cottage before we left (so it was nice and tidy – I was going for the magazine look). It didn’t happen because my back was playing up and I was a little tunnel-visioned with the pain. So you’ll just have to take my word for it, you’d love it.

I think you can know a break has been beneficial when you’re content to return home. If you’re devastated the moment you walk through the door you probably needed a few extra days! Thankfully (mostly for Pud and Judy) we were happy to be home. We did the little tour of the house as if we were viewing to buy it all over again. Or maybe we thought it might have changed over the six days we were away from it. Please don’t tell me we’re the only ones that do this. I ceremoniously took our new toaster out of it’s box and plugged it in. Then I made some toast just because I could.

Before I drop off to sleep sitting upright on the sofa, here’s a snapshot of our week.


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Sometimes you’ve got to slow right down and simplify to notice something.  This week we’ve been able to slow down and simplify big style.  Our default setting of autopilot was shut down at the door and everything became intentional.  Wensleydale hasn’t gone digital yet so to watch any sky channels we had to log onto our laptops and sign into Sky Go.  This has been great for the girls to have an hour’s downtime on the sofa but meant that for the first time in our family’s history (shocking I know) we’ve not had background TV on.  TV is a funny old thing.  I don’t have a problem with it at all.  In fact I quite love it.  Sometimes all we need is to collapse in front of the Box and be idle for a while.  But that’s the thing – it makes active people idle, unless you count ironing because that is something you can do while your watching the TV.  Or running on a treadmill, you can do that too I guess but I don’t.  On the whole when we watch TV we generally become physically and mentally disconnected from reality.  So this week I have felt very much reconnected, so much so that I know I need to be more intentional of my time from now on.


I reckon the killer of many great ideas is busyness.  We mean to do this or we mean to do that, but we just didn’t get around to it and we just ran out of time.  It just falls off the radar.  And this is why we need to be actively intentional, carrying through with good idea on purpose.  We live in a culture of speed and convenience.  Everyone is always rushing.  Maybe we’re trying to do too much that we’re getting too tired that we don’t end up doing nearly enough as we wanted.  I tease The Husband because so often he walks through the front door and before he says hello he’s looking at his watch and telling me what time he has to be somewhere else.


A guy called Robert A Heinlein warned us to “not handicap your children by making their lives easy”.  When I first read this I thought it was just another old-schooler trying to take us back to Victorian parenting.  Don’t cuddle them or they’ll be grow to be spoiled, leave their pram out in the garden or they’ll grow to be demanding etc.  Bear with me (Bear? Bare? I always forget!) I’ll come back to this.

I’ve noticed recently that Ruby struggles with a couple of things that I’m sure Chloe was fine with at Ruby’s age.  It’s not that Chloe’s more clever.  When a second child comes along everything becomes more rushed because there is double the mess and, well pretty much double everything.  So when you’re rushing out the door you fasten their coats because it’s quicker than waiting for them to fumble with the toggles themselves.  You make decisions for them because otherwise you know you’ll still be waiting there long after you should have been on your way.  Earlier this week Ruby wanted me to fasten the button on her jeans.  Because we weren’t rushing anywhere and my mind wasn’t on a million other things I sat down and explained to her that if I kept fastening her button for her she’d never learn to do it herself.  Immediately I thought of Robert A Heinlein’s words.  Ok, maybe there was just a little bit of sense somewhere in there.  So while we’ve been away we’ve tried to hold back from doing things for the girls.  Such a simple thing that reaps so much growth.  We watched as the girls chose and asked for their own ice creams and we waited while Chloe chose which two gems to get from the Gem Shop (it would have been sooooooo easy to just back down and say she could have the three that she was looking at but I’m totally glad I didn’t).  We’re gonna have to be intentional in raising these girls if we want them to grow up to be the awesome world-changing women they have the capacity to become.

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